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Reports Examine Region’s Growing Infrastructure Funding Needs
Two new reports highlight the growing need for new capital spending in the region and state. In November, the Civic Federation issued a report, "The State of Illinois Infrastructure," to examine capital needs for highways and roads, bridges, mass transit, aviation, drinking water, wastewater, and dams in the state. The report examines a number of state and local budgets, capital improvement plans, and other studies on the state of Illinois infrastructure. Among numerous pressing needs, the report asserts that 51.9 percent of highways and roads are in only fair or poor condition, and 42 percent of rail cars are past their useful life. As discussed in a recent Crain's column, the report concludes that Illinois will need an additional $300 million for various infrastructure repairs in the next 30 years.
Additionally, a study released in December from DePaul University's Chaddick Institute focuses on the region's growing capital needs for transit. That report, "Tending to Transit," estimates that $2 billion is needed annually just to avoid further deterioration of the public transportation system, while current and projected resources represent about one-quarter to one-half that amount. The report notes that while one-time federal and state infusions between 2008 and 2010 helped to address some of the transit system's capital needs, those funds did not fully address the maintenance backlog. In fact, the ten-year capital backlog grew from $1.46 billion in 2001 to $1.85 billion in 2012, with total needs climbing from $2.61 billion in 2010 to $3.06 billion in 2012.
Capital spending, particularly on transportation, is a key issue for our region. GO TO 2040 expects minimal funds -- only about 5 percent of traditional transportation revenues expected over the planning period -- to be available after basic maintenance and operational needs have been met. New revenue sources will be required to modernize the transportation system and allow for judicious expansion of our roads and transit -- investments that are critical to the long-term economic prosperity of the region.