Durbin: As National Transportation Hub, Illinois Infrastructure Will Benefit From Historic Investments in Presidential Budget

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the budget that President Obama delivered to Congress today will create jobs and give our economy a shot in the arm by making critical investments in our national transportation and infrastructure network.


“Illinois’ airports, highways, waterways, and rail lines are at the center of our national transportation network. Maintaining and modernizing this quickly aging network is vital to our future economic well-being, and must be one of our national priorities. Today, the President’s budget meets that challenge by putting a down payment on critically needed upgrades to our existing infrastructure, and making historic investments in building the infrastructure of tomorrow,” Durbin said.


The President’s budget includes a four-year, $302 billion surface transportation bill proposal which would improve safety, create jobs and will improve the condition and efficiency of our transportation systems. The President’s proposal is an $87 billion increase over the current authorized levels of spending.


Increasing Investments in Priority Projects


The President’s plan would invest $1.25 billion per year in the competitive TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant Program, which directs the Department of Transportation to invest in a variety of transportation modes based on applications solicited directly from states, local governments, and transit agencies.


Since the program was first established in 2009, Illinois has received nearly $200 million in TIGER funding to support critical transportation and infrastructure projects across the state including: the Warehouse District in Peoria, the Multimodal Facilities in Moline, Normal and Alton and the CREATE project in Chicago.


Maintaining and Modernizing Our Rail Network


The President’s Budget contains $5 billion in FY15 funding to invest in rail safety, passenger, and freight rail investment programs – an increase of $3.4 billion over FY14 levels. The President’s Budget request also proposes $4.8 billion in funding to establish a National High-Performance Rail System (NHPRS) to support current operations and to improve rail systems for the future.  Since 2009, Illinois’ rail network has benefited from approximately $2 billion in federal rail funds, which have helped upgrade train speed between Chicago to St. Louis, build new multimodal stations, purchase new locomotives and train cars, and eliminate the rail bottleneck in metropolitan Chicago.


Growing Freight Rail


The President’s Budget includes $1 billion for a new program to provide a dedicated source of funding to improve the delivery of freight projects, increasing efficiency, and fostering economic growth.


The program is based on a Durbin-authored provision included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) to establish a national policy to improve the condition and performance of our national freight infrastructure. Between one-third and one-quarter of all freight traffic either starts, stops, or passes through Illinois.


Improving Rail Safety


The President’s Budget includes $825 million to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) - a communications-based system designed to prevent certain types of train accidents caused by human factors – on commuter railroads. This funding would help commuter rail carriers like Metra upgrade their safety systems and increase the efficiency of their rail lines. PTC is a critical safety tool that would have prevented two derailments that occurred on Metra trains in 2003 and 2005.


Supporting Mass Transit Programs


The President’s budget also includes $275 million for a competitive grant program Durbin created as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which was signed into law in 2012. Earlier this year, the Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014 included $120 million for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)’s new “Core Capacity” Program, which allows existing transit lines (or “core capacity” projects) to compete for FTA funding under the “New Starts” grant program.


The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) became the first transit system accepted into the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)’s “Core Capacity” Program in November 2013. As the only system to be accepted into the program thus far, CTA and the FTA have begun moving forward on the environmental work necessary for design and construction of the planned rebuilding of the CTA’s Red Line and Purple Line.