Next State Transportation Funding Program
LCTA’s mission is to advocate for transportation investments in order to sustain and enhance Lake County’s high quality of life and provide tangible benefits to the community, including quality job retention and creation, capital investment, economic diversity, and sustainable economic growth. In particular, LCTA promotes the Lake County State Highway Consensus List – a consensus list of 22 needed state highway capacity priority improvements.
The Cyclical Nature of Transportation Investments
The amount of government investments in transportation infrastructure is cyclical in nature. New or increased revenue streams spur increased construction projects. But these revenue streams, especially if they include bond funds, inevitably loose purchasing power. That leads to an ever decreasing number of construction projects until a tipping point is reached when political conditions exist such that a new transportation capital bill might realistically be passed.
Transportation Capital Bill - Need
A bill is legislation before the Illinois General Assembly. A transportation capital bill is legislation to authorize additional expenditures, above what the state can currently provide, for transportation infrastructure at the state and local level. A transportation capital bill would also provide the new revenues necessary to pay for the expenditures, which is the hardest part in getting a bill passed into law. LCTA is desirous for a new transportation capital bill because we know that the current revenues provided to IDOT, in their next five-year planning horizon, are insufficient to widen any more of the highways in the Lake County State Highway Consensus List. The transportation investment need is now.
The Balance between Capital Maintenance and Capital Infrastructure
IDOT and local highway authorities (counties, municipalities and road districts), must resurface their highways and repair bridges on an ongoing basis. Revenue streams for these purposes, in the agency's five-year planning horizon, are called capital maintenance investments.
Investments by IDOT to widen state highways, such as those in the Lake County State Highway Consensus List, are called capital infrastructure investments.
When a transportation agency has fewer revenues than what it would take to meet all of its transportation needs, capital maintenance investments have a higher priority than capital infrastructure investments. This is the condition in which IDOT and local highway authorities find themselves. It’s a signal that a new state transportation funding program is sorely needed, because while we want IDOT and local highway authorities to be able to provide smooth roads and bridges, we need more than that in Lake County. We need more construction of projects in the consensus list of 22 needed state highway capacity improvements in the Lake County State Highway Consensus List.
Transit State of Good Repair
The RTA Service Boards, Metra and Pace, have also expressed a need for additional funding to go towards capital maintenance infrastructure. The RTA’s term is adequate funding to reach a State of Good Repair. LCTA also supports that transportation needs are beneficial for Lake County.
Illinois is fortunate to have the Transportation for Illinois Coalition (TFIC), a diverse group of Illinois associations, labor groups, local governments, and economic development groups, which is now promoting a robust and fair state transportation capital program.
In the 2014 Spring Session of the legislature, TFIC put forth a transportation capital maintenance and investment plan. The proposal was an additional $1.8 billion annually to support both pay-as-you-go spending and bonding for highways and transit. The excitement that maybe, just maybe, the Illinois General Assembly would consider the bill proposal was dashed as described at the LCTA Annual Meeting on May 2, 2014.
What the General Assembly did was approve a one-time amount of $1.1 billion in additional bonding for highways: $1 billion to state highways and $100 million for local roads. The IDOT projects were not going to be new projects; this money was allocated to move up projects from the out-years of IDOT’s five-year highway improvement program to the 2014/15 construction season. These projects were mostly maintenance projects: resurfacings and bridge repairs. No add-lane projects on the Lake County State Highway Consensus List are being funded.
For local highway authorities (counties, municipalities and road districts) the $100 million is an additional MFT distribution beyond the one remaining $100 million distribution from the Illinois Jobs Now Capital Program.
2015 TFIC Proposal
TFIC has been reworking its proposal with the following goals:
- Restore the state highway system to 90 percent acceptability for roads and 93 percent acceptability for bridges
- Provide an adequate pay-as-you-go program that will maintain those favorability ratings into the future
- Provide a reasonable increase in funding for local roads - over 88 percent of road miles are local roads
- Provide for an ongoing pay-as-you-go component for transit to meet their growing infrastructure needs
- Provide for other transportation needs through an adequate bonding component
Click here to view the latest information.
TFIC has also prepared some insightful Fact Sheets:
- Where is all the money going that we pay today for transportation infrastructure?
- Why isn’t it enough?
- Why are our roads, bridges, rails, buses, trains, and airports wearing out?
- What benefit do taxpayers get for the increased taxes/fees TFIC is asking for?
You can view these Fact Sheets by clicking here.