Durbin: Transportation Secretary's Visit Underscores Importance of Transportation Bill

In call with LaHood, Durbin stresses need to keep job-creating I-74 Bridge project a top federal priority

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the transportation bill Conference Committee, today spoke with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about the importance of passing a transportation bill that includes funding for a new competitive grant program for projects of regional and national significance.  This grant program would give Illinois and Iowa the opportunity to seek additional federal funding for the I-74 Bridge project which Secretary LaHood is scheduled to visit on Friday. 


“Secretary LaHood understands the importance of the I-74 Bridge to the Quad Cities region and I welcome his visit on Friday,” said Durbin.  “Over the last decade the Illinois Congressional Delegation has secured over $85 million for the project.  The only way we will be successful in the future is by keeping every federal, state and local official on the same page and moving forward.  We need a federal transportation bill that includes opportunities for large regional programs – like the I-74 Bridge project – to secure funding and as a member of the Conference Committee I will work to make that happen.”


“The I-74 Bridge is one of many bridges nationwide in need of repair,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.  “There are workers ready to start making the repairs, and state and local representatives ready to support the effort – all that’s needed is for Congress to pass a long-term, bipartisan bill to give them the funding and certainty they need to get started.”


A new bridge across the Mississippi in the Quad Cities is important to the economic future of the region.  The project will improve connections for workers and goods, improve safety, reduce traffic delays, improve downtown redevelopment and create and save thousands of jobs.   Durbin has worked with members of the Illinois and Iowa Congressional Delegations since 2001 to secure $85,300,000 for the I-74 Bridge project.  To date, the two states combined have obligated approximately $70,600,000 of those federal funds and spent $31,000,000. 


In addition to the Projects of National and Regional Significance program in the Senate-passed version of the transportation bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Durbin is a member, recently approved an FY2013 transportation appropriations bill that includes $500 million in funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Grants and Economic Reinvestment (TIGER) grant program.  This program allows local communities to apply directly to the federal Department of Transportation for funding of nationally significant transportation projects.   Preliminary work on and design for the I-74 Bridge project would be eligible for federal funding under the TIGER program.