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Tollway Releases 15 Year Capital Plan
UPDATE: Tollway board approves proposed capital plan
On Thursday, August 24, 2011, the Illinois Tollway board of directors voted to approve the proposed 15-year, $12 billion capital plan that will help to ensure our region's continued economic competitiveness and quality of life. In what the CMAP Board's supporting letter called "a necessary and brave step in the right direction," the Tollway will emphasize maintenance and modernization of the current system while undertaking a limited number of expansion projects, each of which had earlier been identified as a high priority in the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan. Read more below in a CMAP Policy Update from July 28, 2011.
The Illinois Tollway has proposed a 15-year, $12 billion capital plan for the maintenance, modernization, and expansion of the Tollway system. An $8 billion investment is planned for needs on the existing system, including reconstructing, modernizing, and adding capacity to the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90), which links Rockford with O'Hare Airport. The Tollway has identified the Jane Addams as a near-term priority, and planning for transit options will also occur in conjunction with the rebuilding and widening of the road. The GO TO 2040 plan includes this facility as a major capital priority project and specifically recommends a "managed lane" treatment, which could include variable pricing to regulate demand.
Other GO TO 2040 priority projects included in the proposal are the construction of the I-294/I-57 Interchange, as well as construction of the Elgin O'Hare West Bypass (EOWB). The I-294/I-57 Interchange project calls for a full interchange at the juncture of these two interstates for improved accessibility to and from the south suburbs, and also for improved north-south regional travel. The EOWB project consists of several elements centered around O'Hare Airport, a major economic driver in the region. Together, these elements are expected to relieve congestion and improve accessibility throughout the corridor. Governor Quinn's EOWB Advisory Council recently released its final report on strategies for financing this project and ensuring broad economic benefits, sustainability, and diversity.
The plan also commits funding toward advancing the Central Lake County Corridor (IL 53 North and IL 120 Limited Access), another GO TO 2040 major capital priority project. Earlier this month, the Tollway announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon Advisory Council to develop consensus on design and planning options for the corridor. CMAP will serve as a member of this Council.
The capital plan investments will be financed through bonds, which will backed by proposed toll rate increases for passenger vehicles beginning in 2012 and commercial vehicles beginning in 2015. Toll revenue from new facilities like the EOWB will also help fund the improvements. GO TO 2040 makes the case for increased revenues to fund the system and notes that among many options, the region should prioritize ones that require users to pay an amount closer to the actual cost of using the system, particularly on the highway system, where each additional user imposes congestion costs on others. These types of strategies would both help raise more revenue and also enable the system to operate more efficiently.
The Tollway's press release on the capital plan includes results of CMAP analysis on the collective benefits of the I-90, the EOWB project, and the I-294/I-57 Interchange. CMAP has observed that in the context of GO TO 2040's preferred scenario, these three projects will reduce congested vehicle miles traveled by 1 million daily.
CMAP Board Chair Gerald Bennett, Mayor of Palos Hills, also spoke on CMAP's behalf at the Tollway's announcement. He emphasized the Tollway plan's alignment with GO TO 2040 priorities and recommendations.
In August, a series of public hearings will be held across the region to provide more details on the program.