Transportation and Infrastructure
A strong national economy depends on a dependable transportation infrastructure, and Illinois operates as the nation's transportation hub. Chicago's O'Hare International Airport consistently ranks as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois’ rivers and Lake Michigan are the backbone of our inland waterway network. All of the nation's freight rail lines converge in Illinois. The state's highway system serves as the crossroads of America. And Illinois is home to the second largest mass transit system in the country. To maintain the state's status as the nation's transportation epicenter, Senator Durbin is working to bring vital federal funding home to Illinois and to make sure federal transportation policy provides Illinois with the support it needs to maintain, expand, and modernize Illinois’ transportation network.
Senator Durbin has consistently fought to protect Illinois’ federal share of highway formula funds. These funds are critical to Illinois maintaining and expanding our vast road network. Senator Durbin will continue working to make sure Illinois gets the funding it needs to keep our road network in a state of good repair and handle the traffic of the future, while stabilizing the Highway Trust Fund. Senator Durbin also consistently advocates for improved planning that makes our roads accessible to all users. This includes making sure pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with disabilities have safe access to sidewalks and roadways.
Through Senator Durbin’s role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has had the opportunity each year to advocate for increased investment in the federal transportation programs that are vital to Illinois. In addition to securing billions of dollars in federal funding for infrastructure projects in Illinois, Senator Durbin has helped to address Illinois’ transportation needs by creating new transportation programs like the Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD, formerly TIGER) program, a competitive grant program that allows local communities to apply directly to the federal government for projects that improve safety, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, environmental sustainability, and improved access to jobs and education. Since its creation in 2009, Illinois infrastructure projects have received millions of dollars in TIGER/BUILD grant funds due to Senator Durbin’s efforts. Senator Durbin has also worked to boost funding for Illinois through surface transportation authorization bills. The 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act—the most recent surface transportation bill—provides more than $7.5 billion in highway funding and nearly $3 billion in transit funding for Illinois.
Public transportation is a vital part of Illinois’ transportation network. That’s why Senator Durbin has worked to protect a secure, dedicated source of revenue for transit through the Highway Trust Fund and to increase both formula and grant funding for Illinois’ transit, bus, and commuter rail systems. To ensure that aging transit systems like the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in Chicago have access to the federal funds they need to modernize, Senator Durbin created the Core Capacity program in 2012 in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which has resulted in more than $1 billion dollars in grant funding to the CTA.
Senator Durbin is committed to fully funding and expanding Amtrak in Illinois, maintaining Amtrak service throughout the nation, and increasing the usage of Amtrak by the American people. Investing in passenger rail meets a growing demand for reliable alternatives to driving and flying—relieving congestion on our highways and increasing economic activity along rail routes. The success of our transportation system depends on timeliness and reliability, and Senator Durbin is dedicated to improving Amtrak’s on-time performance for the residents of Illinois. Senator Durbin has been steadfast in his efforts to improve rail services, including legislation and other efforts that ensure major rail carriers grant access and preference to passenger rail trains.
Senator Durbin is also focused on maintaining Illinois' status as one of the world's busiest commercial rail corridors and will work to promote and improve a fully-developed rail network in Illinois and the nation. One third of the nation's rail freight shipments pass through Chicago, resulting in congestion on Chicago’s rail freight network. If capacity problems are not addressed, Chicago stands to lose jobs and money. That’s why Senator Durbin has been proud to help secure federal funding for the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program, which is a partnership between federal, state, and local governments and the passenger and freight railroads to invest billions of dollars in more than 70 projects in the Chicago area to improve efficiency and decrease congestion.
With rail infrastructure spanning 16,000 acres, Northeastern Illinois is now the largest and busiest intermodal hub in the nation and the fifth largest worldwide. One third of the nation's rail freight shipments pass through Chicago. Congestion in Chicago's rail freight network is bad and getting worse. Moving freight across the region by rail takes two days or more at an average speed of nine miles per hour. If capacity problems are not addressed, Chicago stands to lose an estimated $2 billion in annual production and 17,000 jobs in the next two decades. I am focused on maintaining Illinois' status as one of the world's busiest commercial rail corridors and will work to promote and improve a fully-developed rail network in Illinois and the nation.
One important component of relieving the rail bottleneck in Illinois is the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program. CREATE is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the federal government, the State of Illinois, City of Chicago, Metra, and the nation's freight railroads. The partners together are investing $1.5 billion in improvements to increase the efficiency of the region's rail infrastructure. With these investments, we will be able to reduce rail and motorist congestion, improve passenger rail service, enhance public safety, promote economic development, improve air quality, and create jobs in Illinois.
Illinois is home to more than 100 public and private airports. Federal funding plays an important role in supporting our Illinois airports—from modernizing the technology our air traffic system uses to improve safety and efficiency to expanding runways and enhancing airport infrastructure to keep up with increases in passenger and cargo capacity. Senator Durbin is fighting to increase Airport Improvement Program grants and bring vital Federal Aviation Administration dollars back to airports in Illinois—from the smallest general aviation airports to O’Hare International Airport.