Illinois is set to receive a large amount of money from a new federal transportation bill passed by congress late last month and signed by the president Friday morning. Some of that money could be secured for rail consolidation through Springfield.
From left to right: Senator Dick Durbin, IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider, Mike Zahn & Brad Shaive
Senator Dick Durbin says the bill offers up $500 million dollars in grants for Illinois. Some of that money could be used to fund improvements for the 10th Street corridor for rail consolidation.
Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider says that once the recently presented environmental impact study concerning the 10th Street corridor is put into the record, the state will move forward to secure some of the grant money to fund the project.
In the meantime, Durbin says that money will be made available to increase the safety of the existing 3rd street tracks.
Other highlights of the legislation, the first transpiration bill passed in over one-thousand days according to the senator, is the number of jobs it will produce for Illinois laborers. A release from the Senator’s office says that approximately 68,000 jobs will be created or saved in Illinois.
Durbin noted that with the near record temperatures outside doesn’t make for ideal working conditions, but Mike Zahn, with the International Union of Operating Engineers, disagrees.
Zahn notes that some laborers have been unemployed for nine months and that is worse than working in triple-digit heat. This bill would give thousands across the state jobs which in turn would boost local economies, according to Zahn.
Brad Shaive with the Laborers International Union of North America Local 477 says this bill is an economic engine. Shaive says the bill not only puts people back to work but it will also fuel equipment manufacturers and road construction material suppliers throughout the state of Illinois.
Durbin notes that the bill does not include earmarks, but he worked to keep Illinois’ earmarks in place as part of the overall available $4.1 billion available for the state. That money, coupled with $14 billion from Governor Pat Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! plan will help provide the necessary improvements to highways and mass transit development, according to a release from Durbin’s office.
Durbin says not everything about the bill is good. He says the bill does not include any increase of funds for AMTRAK even though the train operations ridership has increased.