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Roads and Bridges crisis looms

Wed, 24 Apr 2013 18:07:52 CDT
By: Charlie Schlenker

Roads and Bridges crisis looms Jennifer Morrison of the TFIC and State Rep. Dan Brady

Business groups, contractors, and organized labor all agree a transportation crisis is looming in Illinois. Jennifer Morrison of the Transportation For Illinois Coalition says the end of a capital investment program after this year will drastically reduce annual road repair projects.

"In the current fiscal year there are 929 projects on the program. In fiscal 2013 wirth no new revenues there will be 335, one third of what it is today."

And Morrison says that will have a profound economic impact, both in difficulty of getting goods from place to place on crumbling infrastructure, and on employment.

"In the current year the transportation investment program will support 45,000 jobs. By 2018 if we don't do something it will be 19,903 jobs."

Morrison says the problem is that motor fuel tax funding grows about one to two percent per year because it is based on the number of gallons sold. That's less than inflation and there has been no adjustment since 1990. License plate fees to support some construction were last raised in 2010. The coalition wants a bipartisan discussion on user fees that will grow with inflation, perhaps a sales tax on gasoline instead of a tax per gallon. Anotherr idea being discussed is a mileage tax, though that is less popular in rural areas. The issue is complicated by the state's poor fiscal condition. Government has raided the road fund for pension and other purposes over the last decade.

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