Our Chicago: Illinois' plans for $17B from federal infrastructure bill

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Our Chicago Part 1
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Illinois Department of Transportation Director of Planning and Programming Holly Bieneman spoke with ABC7 about how federal infrastructure dollars will be used.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois will get $17 billion from the recently passed federal infrastructure plan.

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law Monday.

Our Chicago Part 2

DePaul University School of Public Service Professor Joe Schwieterman spoke with ABC7 about the $11 billion Illinois is set to receive for infrastructure repairs.

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The money coming to Illinois includes more than $11 billion for highway projects, bridge replacement and repairs.

"I think that we as a state fared pretty well in this bill. And I think we'll see big investments in the roads, particularly the expressways and mass transit systems," said Joe Schwieterman, a professor in the School of Public Service at DePaul University. "We have some serious needs so it won't fix everything, but boy it's good news."

Holly Bieneman, director of planning and programming for the Illinois Department of Transportation, spoke with ABC7 about how projects will be selected and prioritized.

"We're definitely focused on fixing what we currently have and that has been our priority for many years," said Bieneman said. "Over two thirds of the funding that comes to Illinois for transportation for roads and bridges goes towards fixing what we have and that will continue."

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IDOT will also use a data-driven decision process to prioritize capacity changing projects, "so that's projects that add lanes, new interchanges, new roads," said Bieneman. "That is something that was legislated over the summer and signed by Governor Pritzker and put into law. So that is one way that we will be looking at prioritizing projects." She continued, "Another is our existing transportation asset management which uses the condition of pavement and bridges to prioritize projects."

But the bill doesn't only include money for transportation projects.

"It casts a pretty broad net that there's funding in there for electric vehicles, there's quite a bit in here related to internet access," said Schwieterman. "There's also some money for basic government facilities. So you add all that together and it's going to reach big towns and small."