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Illinois in line for $1.4 billion to fix bridges under Biden infrastructure plan

Chicago Tribune

Friday, January 14, 2022  |  Article  |  Dan Petrella

Illinois is in line to receive nearly $1.4 billion in federal funding over five years to help upgrade the state’s deteriorating bridges, the Biden administration is set to announce Friday.

The funding, which comes from the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan President Joe Biden signed into law in November, is just a portion of the roughly $17 billion the state is expected to receive from the overall package.

The funding should provide a boost to a state that has more than 2,300 bridges rated in “poor” condition, according to federal data, the third-largest total among all 50 states.

The money comes on top of Gov. J.B Pritzker’s ongoing “Rebuild Illinois” construction program, a six-year, $45 billion effort to improve the state’s roads, bridges, rails and public buildings.

Pritzker’s office did not respond to a request for comment on how the Illinois Department of Transportation will allocate the funds, including the nearly $275 million the state will receive this year.Democratic U.S. Reps. Brad Schneider of Deerfield, Jan Schakowsky of Evanston and Mike Quigley of Chicago have scheduled a news conference Friday morning at the site of one potential project: the Rand Road bridge over the Des Plaines River in northwest suburban Des Plaines.

The bridge is in poor condition and needs to be replaced, at a cost of more than $12 million, according to IDOT’s most recent multiyear plan.

“There is no shortage of bridges we could have gone to in our district or across the state that are going to benefit from the money that’s coming in,” Schneider said Thursday.

The federal program, which will distribute $26.5 billion nationwide over five years to upgrade 15,000 bridges, is the largest investment in the nation’s bridges since the creation of the interstate highway system, according to the White House.

It will be followed by a $12.5 billion competitive grant program targeting the nation’s most economically significant bridges.

The funding to be announced Friday is intended to spur improvements to bridges under the jurisdiction of counties and local governments. Rather than requiring state and local governments to provide 20% of the funding, as is typically the case, this program allows projects to be paid for entirely with federal funds.

This federal investment “is going to have immediate impact, create quality jobs and improve the lives in every one of our communities,” Schneider said.