Illinois gets over $1B from federal government to repair more than 2K bridges

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The federal infrastructure plan will send more than $1 billion to Illinois over the next five years, which is earmarked for more than 2,000 aging and crumbling bridges in need of repair.

When it comes to the number of bridges rated structurally deficient, Illinois is ranked third worst in the nation according to the National Bridge Registry. Statewide, there are 2,374 in poor condition and more than half of them need to be replaced.

The Clarendon Hills Road Bridge spanning I-55 is one of them.

"Updating bridges means safer communities to work for work in school, it means accessible sidewalks for pedestrians or cyclists across our rivers. And it means improving traffic," said Rep. Brad Schneider, (D-10th District).

On Friday members of the Illinois congressional delegation gathered at the Rand Road Bridge over the Des Plaines River to tout the infrastructure money. This year the state will receive $275 million; over the next five years Illinois will get $1.4 billion.

The Rand Road Bridge was built in 1928 and is already scheduled to be replaced in 2022.

"This is a transformative piece of legislation and really long overdue for what we have needed in this in this country," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, (D-9th District).

The Illinois Department of Transportation already has about 170 bridges slated for repair work this year. The additional federal funding will allow even more bridges to be added to the list.

While politicians will surely be jockeying for funding for their own committees, IDOT will be in charge of deciding where the money gets spent.

"And so as part of that we what we call an asset management plan, we will be basically prioritizing ranking based on need, so it will be a across the board," said Steve Travia, IDOT chief engineer.

The federal dollars to not require local communities to come up with partial matching funds, so Illinois taxpayers won't take an extra hit to get projects done.

IDOT also stressed that while bridges may be considered in poor condition, that doesn't mean they're unsafe. They just may need more than routine maintenance.
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