The rapidly deteriorating condition of Illinois roads, bridges, and transit systems is producing increased congestion and vehicle maintenance costs, and the annual cost of needed repairs currently stands at $4.6 billion per year, according to a new study released today by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute.
In making the case for urgent transportation funding, study author Mary Craighead notes that the backlog of Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) roadway miles requiring immediate attention has increased by 85% (from 1,700 to 3,300) since 2000. Approximately 62% of the state’s bridges are over 30 years old, with roughly a third more than 50 years old and having “exceeded their design life.” Almost 31% of the Regional Transportation Authority’s assets are not in a state of good repair, and downstate transportation systems face a 10-year maintenance funding shortfall of $2 billion.
If nothing changes, Craighead notes that the situation will worsen dramatically—with the IDOT road backlog expected to grow by 101%, and the bridge backlog to grow by another 64% by 2023.
While the report notes that motorists are paying 29% less in motor fuel taxes to support the maintenance of state transportation systems today than they were in 1999, it also points out that they are already feeling the effects of the backlog. Since 2000, the average peak Chicago commuter has seen their annual time spent in traffic delays grow from 52 to 61 hours, with annual maintenance costs due to inferior roadways costing each driver around $630 per year.
With the Trump Administration’s infrastructure proposal offering few federal funds and emphasizing state and local revenue streams, Illinois would need to generate more than $4.6 billion per year to bring all statewide transportation systems into a state of good repair. The report notes that this would require a 347% increase in gasoline taxes and 365% increase in special fuel taxes, a 472% increase in vehicle registration fees, or a 4-5 cents per mile user fee charged to each Illinois driver.
Craighead will be presenting the findings of her recent state transportation needs assessment at the House Transportation: Regulation, Roads & Bridges Committee Hearing on Wednesday. The hearing will be on the effects of the proposed federal infrastructure plan.
Source: Illinois Economic Policy Institute