Durbin: Secretary LaHood Says Illinois Ahead in Obligating Highway Funding

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – During a meeting with Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced that Illinois is well ahead of most other states when it comes to putting highway dollars to work. So far under President Obama’s Recovery Plan, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has approved the state’s plan to spend $629 million on 243 projects. In all, Illinois has $935 million available for road, bridge and highway projects.


“Devoting federal dollars to highway projects is exactly the kind of investment we need to be making right now. Not only are highway projects a source of good-paying construction jobs, but road and bridge improvements help move products to market more efficiently,” said Durbin. “Being ahead of other states in selecting projects and obligating funds is a testament to the bipartisan commitment from local, state and federal leaders to maximizing federal stimulus funding. I am hopeful this lead will help jump start economic growth and recovery efforts back home. The Illinois Delegation and I will continue to work with Governor Quinn, Secretary LaHood and others in the Obama Administration to oversee this investment in Illinois infrastructure projects.”


“These Recovery dollars will spur the economy by putting workers back to work in good-paying jobs and helping Illinois and the nation get back on the right track,” LaHood said.


Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Congressman from Peoria, briefed the delegation Wednesday on how millions of dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are going to boost the economy in Illinois. LaHood said that statewide transit projects will receive $467 million, with the Chicago Transit System receiving the bulk of the funds. USDOT also made awards to Alton, Bloomington-Normal, Champaign, Danville, Decatur, DeKalb, Kankakee, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield for transit projects in those communities.


The FAA has already approved more than $21 million in Airport Improvement Grants to Chicago’s O’Hare, Chicago/Rockford International, and Quad City International. More grants are expected to be approved shortly.


LaHood praised the work of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER team – Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery – for ensuring that the economic recovery funds are quickly made available for transportation infrastructure projects. LaHood said the TIGER team is also charged with monitoring the spending and making sure it the use of this funding is transparent to the public.


Illinois Delegation members attending today’s meeting include: Durbin, Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) and Representatives Don Manzullo (R-IL), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Judy Biggert (R-IL), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Aaron Schock (R-IL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Shimkus (R-IL), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Phil Hare (D-IL), Bill Foster (D-IL) and Debbie Halvorson (D-IL).