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: Before one more bridge crumbles, Illinois better budget for repairs

Chicago Sun Times

Tuesday, May 14, 2019  |  Editorial  |  Editorial Board

Capital Development Board, Capital Construction Plan (14)

Debris from a fallen retaining wall delayed traffic near the Chicago Skyway earlier this month. In April, large concrete chunks fell onto cars parked alongside Chicago Transit Authority tracks in Rogers Park. And in February, a Lake Shore Drive bridge had to be shut down because of a crack in a support beam.


Roads, bridges and public transit systems in Illinois are falling apart, a danger experts have warned of for a decade, even as the state Legislature has failed to budget money for upkeep and repairs.


In January, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Illinois a grade of “D” for its roads and a grade of “D” for its public transit systems.


Finally, though, there is hope in Springfield for passage of a capital bill, long overdue. Let’s get it done.


Last Thursday, Democrats on the House Revenue & Finance Committee approved a $2.44 billion plan to improve state transportation infrastructure, to be paid for through increases in the motor fuel tax, the diesel fuel tax, passenger car registration and drivers license fees, and the fee to register an electric car. After the House action, the Pritzker administration signaled it has some additional projects in mind.


Most other states, including Illinois’ next-door neighbors, are finding new revenues for transportation. Illinois is falling further and further behind the national average.


Lawmakers are still negotiating what a final capital bill would look like and where the money will come from. That’s all part of the process. But before the Legislature adjourns in the coming weeks, it must deliver a bill that starts fixing up Illinois. Ten years of neglect is long enough.