State needs $43 billion to update transportation network

Cash-strapped Illinois needs $43 billion over 10 years to repair and improve its transportation network and boost the state economy, according to a report released on Monday by the Metropolitan Planning Council.

“The $43 billion needed to rebuild and improve our transportation infrastructure is less than what we’re wasting today on vehicle repairs due to poor road conditions, time lost to traffic congestion, and population and jobs going to neighboring states,” Jim Reilly, a senior fellow at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Chicago region planning group, said in a statement.

The fifth-largest U.S. state is in its 10th month without a full fiscal 2016 budget due to an impasse between its Republican governor and Democrats who control the legislature. Illinois is struggling with a $6.7 billion bill backlog as pensions and debt payments gobble up a big chunk of available revenue.

The report called for raising $2.7 billion a year by increasing the current 19 cents-a-gallon state gasoline tax by 30 cents and hiking vehicle registration fees, which cost $101 a year for most cars, by 50 percent.

Half of the new money would be tapped for pay-as-you-go projects, with the other half backing $25 billion of 25-year bonds.

The money would be spent on state and local roads, mass transit and railroads.

The council recommended an amendment to the Illinois Constitution creating a transportation trust fund to ensure the new revenue is not diverted for other purposes.

–Reuters

Read more: Why are we unwilling to pay for good public transportation?
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