Infrastructure | WGLT

Infrastructure

U.S. Route 150 and Illinois Route 9 signs
Eric Stock / WGLT

The City of Bloomington has scheduled a public meeting to gather feedback on a proposal to add bike lanes along Illinois Route 9.

Construction workers are building the foundation for new tracks at a train crossing south of downtown Springfield. The long-term plan includes new underpasses so cars won’t have to wait for trains.

Several months ago, Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder sent a letter to lawmakers asking for $127 million in a construction plan to pay for the next phase – new tracks and overpasses farther south.

Illinois lawmakers say they’re ready to move ahead with a major road construction program. It would mean tax and fee increases on gasoline, license plates and driver’s licenses.

Former Republican congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made a pitch Monday for Illinois to raise its gas tax.

The Peoria native told a panel of lawmakers he would champion the tax hike even though his fellow Republicans may be opposed.

“I remember the days like many of you do when Illinois was a great state, when we had great infrastructure, when we were able to attract business to our state,” said LaHood, who headed the U.S. Department of Transportation under former President Barack Obama. “That’s what we want to get back to.”

Brian Otten likens his process for dealing with road problems to a triage system.

As the highway engineer in Perry County in southern Illinois, Otten says he gets calls about potholes or cracked drainage pipes. 

“And we’ll go out there and take a look and say, this pipe is about fall in and somebody could have an accident here and really get hurt. That takes precedence over the inconvenience of a pothole,” he said.

Problems on interstate highways and bridges get a lot of attention. But you may be seeing more potholes and cracks on the roads you take to work or even live on, particularly in rural areas.

Staff / WGLT

Illinois State University is planning to expand the University Farm by 80 acres.

Flickr

The mayor of Normal said he hopes Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker broadens his transition team looking at state infrastructure needs.

Ryan Denham / WGLT

The question of what office should oversee local elections divided candidates Tuesday at GLT’s McLean County Board forum for Districts 2, 8, and 9.

Illinois roads and bridges are in major disrepair. But after a two-year budget impasse and a backlog of bills that the state is struggling to cover, infrastructure continues to take a backseat. This year, advocates and lawmakers plan to change that.