U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL) today voted for H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012. Durbin and Costello were the only conferees from Illinois helping to craft the final version of this legislation, which provides an increase in Illinois' share of highway and transit funding.
Enacting the bill into law will remove the uncertainty that has surrounded transportation spending during short-term funding extensions, and allow projects to proceed during the important summer construction season. The legislation runs through fiscal year 2014, and is estimated to create or maintain three million jobs, while streamlining federal programs and the approval process for transportation projects.
"The Senate's bipartisan transportation bill provided the basis for negotiations in the Transportation Conference Committee," said Durbin. "We retained many of the funding formulas and job-creating programs that are important to Illinois while extending the bill from two years to three so that states, cities and local transit agencies will have the confidence to plan and build big projects across the country. This is a good bill for Illinois that sends much needed investment to our highway and mass transit systems and gives major infrastructure projects -- like the I-74 Bridge in the Quad Cities and railroad relocation in Springfield -- an opportunity to compete for future federal funding."
"This has not been a perfect process and this is not a perfect bill, but it is a good bill for Illinois and the nation," said Costello. "It is imperative that we make infrastructure improvements that put people back to work and make our economy more efficient, and this bill does that, with Illinois receiving an increase in our rate of return. We actually move up one spot from 7th to 6th in terms of total state funding from the last transportation bill and we will continue to work to maximize resources for Illinois."
The bill will create or save 3 million jobs nationwide by:
Providing $4.1 billion dollars to Illinois over the next three years for highways. The transportation conference report distributes highway formula funds in a way that reflects all funds Illinois has received in previous transportation bills, including funds for important projects like the Mississippi River Bridge in Metro East, the CREATE project and the reconstruction of Wacker Drive. This funding reflects the highest share of federal highway formula funding that Illinois has received in over 15 years.
Providing $1.5 billion to Illinois over the next three years for mass transit. The bill reflects an 11% increase in funding for mass transit in Illinois which will allow transit systems like CTA and Metra to compete for funds to improve their service.
Authorizing $500 million for the Projects of Regional and National Significance: The bill authorizes $500 million in funding for a competitive grant program for projects of regional and national significance that will give our state and its communities the opportunity to seek additional funds for significant projects like the I-74 bridge, the Elgin-O'Hare Western Bypass, rail relocation in Springfield, and the proposed Illiana highway, among others.
Protecting the highway trust fund for mass transit and prevent it from going into bankruptcy. The bill provides enough revenue to the highway trust fund to keep our transportation system moving through 2014 -- ensuring we will stop lurching from short-term extension to short-term extension. Despite some attempts to eliminate all gas tax revenue for public transportation the bill protects mass transit's share of the highway trust fund.
Accelerating Transportation Project Delivery. The bill includes provisions to speed up construction projects by cutting red tape and doing so without endangering the environment.