Illinois Transportation Legislative Initiative
The Chamber was recently approached about a local roads initiative. As a result a survey will be shared with our membership regarding this information to receive your feedback. An overview of the information is given is provided for you below.
Highway user fee financing is being eroded. User fees are necessary to provide predictable, multi-year funding for highway projects. A gas tax is still viable and predictable. We need pay-as-you-go programs.
Federal Highway Trust Fund overspending with one-time bailouts is getting unsustainable with a deficit of $100 billion at the end of the FAST Act. Recent State transportation capital spending increases without revenue has dug a hole, requiring hundreds of millions of new dollars before new projects can be added.
Our interstate is now 40 to 50 years old and was designed to sustain only 20 years of use. Patching and resurfacing will no longer work – it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. Fifteen percent needs repaired today and the number is growing. Speed reductions and trucks limited to the left lane will become commonplace in five to 10 years without reconstruction. The Illinois Tollway spends three times what IDOT spends on a system that is one-sixth the size. IDOT is seriously underfunded.
Most trips a driver takes are on state and local roads. The driver, however, doesn’t know who owns the roads they use or who is responsible for their upkeep. User fees must be levied at the state level for efficiency and consistency of statewide system quality. Local user fees create economic disadvantages across geographic boundaries for business, increase collection and enforcement costs, make it more difficult to enact statewide increases, and lead to a hodge-podge of good and bad roads throughout the state. State revenue sharing for roads is similar to the need for state revenue sharing for schools – there is too much variability in local capability to have a good quality system statewide without it.
In 2009 Capital Bill doubled highway spending, but the miles of bad state highways needing repair has since doubled. This is despite billions of dollars in spending. Local highways were shortchanged. A plan is not a wish list of priority projects – it is a cost estimate to achieve a specified system condition backed up by a list of projects that implement that goal. It is also a proposal for equitable revenue sharing with local governments for their system needs. Even with the budget impasse, the governor and IDOT should be working on this plan today so that when the big issues are resolved, appropriate action can be taken on transportation.
More detailed information:
Using 1983 as a baseline (enactment of the Federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act), Illinois’ transportation infrastructure has suffered remarkably: the interstate system, state highways, and local roads primarily. Moreover, the prospects for local counties, municipalities and townships have been and continue to be grim. Notably:
- Local roads constitute over 89% of the centerline road miles and nearly 40% of the vehicle miles of travel in the State of Illinois (not including toll roads).
- Entities responsible for maintaining local roads (e.g., counties, municipalities and townships) received less than 22% of the revenue generated by Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) and Motor Vehicle Revenue (MVR), despite having carried 40% of the traffic and providing 40% of the revenue to the State.
- Equitable distribution of revenue would have made a tremendous positive impact on local roads throughout the years. Had local entities received back their 40% to the State revenue, they would have received an additional $49.9-billion from 1980 to 2014. In 2014 alone, they would have received an additional $577-million.
- Moreover, 22.5% of the MFT/MVR revenue generated is not returned to virtually any transportation entity (i.e., either IDOT or local roads). Rather it is swept into other, non-transportation related State agencies.
- During the past 30 years, while MFT/MVR revenue has increased steadily, funding returned to local roads has only moderately increased and in fact decreased in actual dollars since 2008. Further, as a percentage of the total revenue, revenues returned back to local roads have decreased since 1980.
- The miles of deferred/suspended preservation of roads at the local level is dangerously high, and will continue to grow should no equitable funding solution be instituted.
- Some local municipalities have filled the funding gap by raising gasoline tax, thereby creating uneven gas tax rates as well as inconsistent road conditions from one jurisdiction to the next.
- The State of Illinois has neither a Transportation Bill nor a Transportation Plan that offer any remedy, goals, or strategies.
Many local leaders and organizations are being asked to support the Illinois Transportation Legislative Initiative that would ask the State (Governor, Legislators, and IDOT Secretary) to adopt and implement legislation to direct the IDOT Secretary to collaborate with county engineers, municipal street officials, township highway commissioners, and transit officials to develop an Illinois Transportation Plan aimed at re-balancing the transportation funding distribution to 80% highways and 20% transit; and then further distribute the highways portion 60% to state highways and 40% to local roads, thereby returning the 40% revenues generated (MFT/MVR) at the local back to the locals.
The Chamber would like membership feedback regarding whether this issue should be supported, opposed or remain neutral.