Durbin Advocates For Federal Funding For Illinois’ Southwest Connector Project To Expand Southern Illinois Highways

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin called on his colleagues to prioritize the annual appropriations process, which funds infrastructure priorities in Illinois

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today delivered a speech on the Senate floor applauding the Biden Administration’s commitment to creating jobs while investing billions in federal funding into local infrastructure projects, including in Illinois.  During his speech, Durbin expressed his hope that the Southwest Connector—a project that would expand Illinois State Highways 127, 154, and 3 from two to four lanes and create a necessary rural expressway between St. Louis and Southern Illinois—would be among one of the infrastructure projects to be advanced under the Biden Administration.

“In a little more than two years, Illinois, our state, has received more than nine billion dollars in infrastructure funding, more than one billion dollars to support the creation of clean energy jobs, and we are creating thousands of new manufacturing jobs at this very moment,”Durbin said.  “I want to tell you about one particular project near and dear to us in Illinois.  It is a project our leaders have been talking about for literally six decades, since the time of the John F. Kennedy Administration, and one that, I hope, we will be able to add to this Senate’s long list of accomplishments.  It is called the Southwest Connector.”

“Expanding these two-lane highways to four lanes will boost economic development in Southern Illinois, and Missouri, by creating jobs and enabling the region to better compete,”Durbin continued.  “When Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021, the largest investment in our infrastructure since President Eisenhower created the Interstate Highway System, it was proof that we could get big things done on behalf of the American people.  We have a chance to do it again by moving forward on the Southwest Connector project.”

Currently, several sections of the Southwest Connector’s planned route rank in the top five percent of the most fatal and injurious two-lane highways in Illinois.  The Connector will improve traffic safety by separating lanes with a 50-foot median, which would also improve mobility for emergency vehicles and provide faster access to health care facilities.  Understanding the importance of reconstructing these highways to better meet the needs of Illinoisans, Durbin has requested an earmark for the project.  

Durbin thanked local leaders, including the Mayor of Murphysboro, Illinois, for their dedication to helping regional infrastructure projects. 

“I want to particularly thank the Mayor of Murphysboro, Will Stephens, who has been working hard to make the Connector a reality, despite the fact the concept of the Connector really started years before he was born.  There are countless local leaders across America – like Mayor Stephens – who are committed to improving our communities, but who have been forced to wait on Washington to provide the funding.  Let’s not make them wait any longer,”Durbin said.

Durbin concluded his speech by calling on his colleagues to prioritize the annual appropriations process, beginning with working to pass 12 separate appropriations bills rather than an omnibus appropriations bill.  

“Congress needs to return to regular order, in a timely manner, to carry out the annual appropriations process and fulfill the authorizations in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and to consider earmarks for community projects that have the opportunity to transform rural communities across the country,” Durbin said. 

“As a Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am committed to working with my colleagues—under the bipartisan leadership of Chair Murray and Ranking Member Collins—to pass our 12 annual appropriations bills on time,” Durbin concluded.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here for TV Stations.