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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 1999

RYAN TOURS STATE TO LAUNCH ILLINOIS FIRST

Governor George H. Ryan today opened a four-day tour of Illinois to launch his landmark $12 billion Illinois FIRST program. Ryan is scheduled to visit 36 communities in every part of Illinois, and will discuss projects contained in the program that affect local roads and highways, school construction, environmental protection and preservation, sewer and water treatment, life, public safety, community development and technological enhancement.

The following is a run-down of the first day's events:

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO PROVIDE $1 MILLION TO HELP RENOVATE AND EXPAND HISTORIC CORONADO THEATRE

ROCKFORD -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $1 million to help renovate the historic Coronado Theatre in Rockford. Once completed, the new facility will be the home of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra as well as a venue for other community activities and a catalyst for future development.

"Renovating the Coronado Theatre is long overdue," Ryan said. "Through the Illinois FIRST program, we will be able to help fund this project and other historic preservation projects throughout the state. Promoting local heritage and improving the quality of life for Illinois citizens is an important part of this program. Without Illinois FIRST, state funding for this project would not be available."

The Coronado Theater and the adjacent Jackson Piano Building will be renovated to become a new theatre complex to be enjoyed both by the local community and visitors from surrounding areas.

Before restoration began earlier this year, the theatre was used on a very limited basis because it was not handicapped accessible, had no air conditioning and the heating system was unreliable. In addition, the stage was too small for most activities and the dressing rooms and other accommodations were inadequate.

The total cost of the project is expected to be $17.5 million. The theatre is on the National Register of Historic Sites.

Other Illinois FIRST projects for the Rockford area include $300,000 to help with the construction of a new arts instructional center at Rock Valley College. Local fire departments and fire protection districts are among 42 in Illinois that will share $1 million for the purchase of thermal imaging equipment for firefighters -- helmet-mounted devices that allow firefighters to "see" thermal images through smoke or in darkness. The program also will enable more than $124 million over the next five years to be spent on transportation improvements in Winnebago County. Funds also will be available for various school construction projects and local transit needs.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO PROVIDE $500,000 TO FREEPORT TO ASSIST WITH ENVIRONMENTAL CLEAN-UP

FREEPORT -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $500,000 to the environmental clean-up of an industrial brownfield adjacent to the W.T. Rawleigh Building in Freeport. Environmental issues at brownfields must be addressed before redevelopment of these prime business sites can occur.

"Helping local governments clean-up industrial brownfields is an important part of Illinois FIRST," Ryan said. "These funds will assist Freeport in its efforts to redevelop the riverfront area, creating new recreational opportunities and stimulating economic development. Without Illinois FIRST, state funds for this project would not be available."

Earlier this year, the City of Freeport received a $120,000 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the environmental conditions at this site.

Governor Ryan's Illinois FIRST program created the Illinois Brownfields Revolving Loan Program to help local governments clean-up brownfields that have already been assessed for contamination. Under this new program, Freeport will receive a $500,000 low-interest loan to address the identified environmental concerns.

Through Illinois FIRST, Stephenson County also will receive approximately $50 million over the next five years for transportation improvements. Funds will be available for various school construction projects, local transit needs and necessary quality of life improvements for area communities.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO PROVIDE $500,000 FOR STATE PARK LODGE PROJECT

SAVANNA -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $500,000 to the City of Savanna for infrastructure improvements designed to spur development of a new lodge at Mississippi Palisades State Park.

"These funds will provide the infrastructure improvements necessary to attract development at Mississippi Palisades State Park ," Ryan said. "Through the Illinois FIRST program, we will be able to fund this project and other similar projects throughout the state. Improving the quality of life for Illinois citizens is an important part of Illinois FIRST."

Since the early 1990s, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has had a $1 million appropriation in its budget to develop a visitors lodge at Mississippi Palisades State Park. However, it has been unable to attract a developer. Through Illinois FIRST, $500,000 is being granted to Savanna for infrastructure improvements that will aid in attracting a developer to build near the city and the park.

Mississippi Palisades is a 2,500 acre park located north of Savanna in Carroll County along the Mississippi River.

Other Illinois FIRST projects for the area include a $25,000 grant to the Mt. Carroll Senior Center to help this new agency expand programs for seniors and their families. In addition, Illinois FIRST will enable Carroll County to receive more than $124 million for transportation improvements over the next four years.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO PROVIDE $17.3 MILLION FOR DIXON WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT

DIXON -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will make available up to $17.3 million to the City of Dixon for construction of a new wastewater treatment plant and interceptor.

The City of Dixon will be eligible for funds in the form of low-interest loans that will be used to replace an outmoded wastewater treatment facility. The new plant will provide additional capacity, replace inoperable and outdated equipment and keep the city in compliance with new ammonia nitrogen limits. The interceptor will provide additional capacity to transport existing and future wastewater flow from the southern part of Dixon.

"Helping local governments make needed improvements to their infrastructure is an important part of the Illinois FIRST program," Ryan said.

"Without Illinois FIRST, funding for this project would not be available," the governor added. "No community should be forced to live with inadequate sewer and wastewater treatment facilities that put public health at risk and limit development."

The loan funds for this project will be provided through the Water Pollution Control Loan Program administered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Loan recipients must meet standard application requirements.

"Each state dollar invested in this loan program leverages five dollars of federal funds," Ryan added.

Other Illinois FIRST projects for the area will include $400,000 for the Rock Falls Dam Walkway, which will connect hiking trails on either side of the Rock River. The fire departments in Dixon, Sterling and Rock Falls are among 42 fire departments across the state that will share $1 million for thermal imaging equipment -- helmet-mounted scanners that allow firefighters to "see" thermal images through smoke or in darkness. In addition, Illinois First will enable Lee County to receive more than $84 million dollars for transportation improvements over the next four years, including $500,000 for local road repairs in Rock Falls and $100,000 for improvements on YMCA Way Avenue in Sterling.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO PROVIDE $500,000 FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CLEAN-UP

EAST MOLINE -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $500,000 to the environmental clean-up of an industrial brownfield adjacent to the Mississippi River that has hampered redevelopment efforts.

"Helping local governments clean-up industrial brownfields is an important part of Illinois FIRST," Ryan said. "These funds will assist East Moline in its efforts to redevelop the riverfront area for recreational and commercial uses."

Earlier this year, the City of East Moline received a $120,000 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the environmental conditions at this site. Governor Ryan's Illinois FIRST program created the Illinois Brownfields Revolving Loan Program to help local governments clean-up brownfields that have already been assessed for contamination. Under this new program, East Moline will receive a $500,000 low-interest loan to address the identified environmental concerns.

Illinois FIRST will enable Rock Island County to receive more than $122 million for road and bridge projects over the next four years. Funds will also be available for various school construction projects, local transit needs and quality of life improvements for area communities.

In addition, Illinois FIRST includes $100,000 to help build a new and larger Library and Learning Center for the Moline City Library; $713,500 for the Henry County Sheriff's office to purchase heart defribulators, computers for patrol cars, an electronic fingerprint scanner and a metal detector for the county courthouse. The Knox County Sheriff's Department will receive $115,000 for patrol car computers and video cameras.

The Warren County Sheriff's office will receive $53,000 for patrol car video cameras. In addition, the fire departments in Geneseo and Prophetstown are among 42 fire departments in Illinois that will share $1 million to buy thermal imaging equipment -- helmet-mounted scanners that allow firefighters to "see" thermal images through smoke and darkness.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO PROVIDE $38.7 MILLION FOR NEW ROCK RIVER BRIDGE

MILAN -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $38.7 million to construct a new bridge over the Rock River between Milan and Rock Island and Moline.

"The construction of this bridge is long overdue," Ryan said. "Without Illinois FIRST funding, we would not be able to build the Rock River Bridge and relieve the traffic congestion that continues to frustrate area residents. This project is an excellent example of what Illinois FIRST is designed to do -- provide resources for necessary projects that have gone unfunded for far too long.

"I want to thank Rep. Joel Brunsvold for his support of Illinois FIRST and for his commitment to this project."

The new bridge will cross the Rock River at the northward extension of the Milan Beltway and connect with Illinois Route 5. The project is designed to alleviate traffic congestion on Interstate 74 from Illinois 5 to Interstate 280 and on Illinois 5 between US Route 67 and Interstate 74.

Of the $38.7 million dedicated to this project, $4.8 million is earmarked for land acquisition and $900,000 for planning and engineering.

Illinois FIRST will enable Rock Island County to receive more than $122 million for transportation improvements. Funds will also be available for various school construction projects, local transit needs and necessary quality of life improvements for area communities.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO PROVIDE $2 MILLION FOR NEW MANUFACTURING CENTER

PEORIA -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $2 million to begin planning and constructing a new $18 million manufacturing center on the campus of Illinois Central College.

The new 75,000-square-foot manufacturing center, located on the main campus, will house apprentice programs in skilled trades, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, electronics, manufacturing, welding, machine shop skills and truck driving.

"The benefits of this project spread far and wide," Ryan said.

"Many local businesses, including Caterpillar, look to Illinois Central College for quality workers. This new center will provide students with the latest in training as well as the prospect of a good job in their future. Local employers will have to look no further than their own community to hire highly skilled workers," Ryan added. " Without Illinois FIRST, state funds for this new manufacturing center would not be available."

"I want to thank Rep. David Leitch for his support of Illinois FIRST and for his commitment to the people of the 93rd District."

With the new manufacturing center, enrollment at Illinois Central College is expected to increase by more than 900 students.

This $2 million investment is part of Illinois FIRST's $2.2 billion commitment to education and job training throughout the state.

Illinois First will enable $526.2 million to be spent on transportation projects in Peoria and Tazewell counties over the next four years, including $370.5 million for the reconstruction and expansion of Interstate 74 through the heart of Peoria. In addition, $50,000 is included for a water erosion control project in East Peoria.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO PROVIDE $4 MILLION FOR NEW VISITORS AT STARVED ROCK

UTICA -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $4 million to construct a new visitors center at Starved Rock State Park.

The planned 12,000 square foot facility will replace the mobile home that currently serves as the park's visitors center.

"With nearly 2 million annual visitors, Starved Rock is one of Illinois' busiest state parks," Ryan said. "This new facility will draw additional visitors to the site and provide improved services to the public. Without Illinois FIRST, funding for this project would not be available."

Other Illinois FIRST projects in LaSalle County will include: $100,000 for the City of Ottawa for riverfront development in the flood buy-out area along the Fox River; $175,000 for the City of Peru for park construction and roller blade facilities at various city parks and the construction of a park and recreation center at Armory Park; $150,000 for the City of Marseilles to acquire property along the Illinois River for a park, boat launch and picnic area; and $125,000 for the LaSalle-Peru Township Recreation Authroirty for planning, development and acquisition of parkland for regional use.

These projects represent a portion of Illinois FIRST's $824 million commitment to environmental protection and recreation projects throughout the state.

Illinois FIRST -- a Fund for Infrastructure, Roads, Schools and Transit, is a five-year, $12 billion public works program designed by Governor Ryan. More than $8 billion will be dedicated to Illinois roads, bridges, highways and mass transit systems and $2 billion for school construction and repair. Of the more than $800 million dedicated to environmental protection and preservation, $60 million will fund brownfield clean up and more than $650 million will upgrade water and sewer systems. The program will commit approximately $460 million for community development projects and $53 million for various public safety initiatives.

An Infrastructure Task Force appointed by Ryan found that 89 percent of Illinois school buildings need repair. Seventy-four percent of the state's interstates have surpassed their 20-year design lifespan. The state hasn't built a new road in nearly a decade, and there is a backlog of 2,400 miles of roads that need repair and 750 bridges that need to be fixed.

Throughout Illinois, mass transit systems need to be updated, and in many cities and towns, drinking water and sewer systems need immediate attention. Urban brownfields throughout the state pose serious environmental threats and must be cleaned-up to protect the environment and to spur economic development. Also, Illinois ranks almost dead last in the amount of public land set aside for conservation.

The main components of Illinois FIRST are:

Transportation: A $4.1 billion supplement to the state's existing surface and air transportation program for roads, rail and air infrastructure.

  • $3.7 billion for highways, roads and bridges that will lead to the repair of an additional 1,000 miles of road and an additional 125 bridges not now included in the state's annual road repair and construction program.
  • A $160 million addition for improvement projects at airports across Illinois, including $75 million dedicated to land acquisition and planning of a new regional airport for Northeastern Illinois at the Peotone site in Will County.
  • A $100 million supplement to continue preparing existing rail lines for the advent of high-speed passenger and freight rail service. And $45 million for railroad grade crossing safety improvements across the state.
  • A $50 million allocation to replace more than nine million license plates.

    Transit: A $4.1 billion allocation for bus, rail and other mass transportation infrastructure needs for established mass transit districts.

  • The Regional Transportation Authority -- Pace, Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority -- will borrow $1.6 billion for improvement projects that will enable the authority capture more than $2 billion in federal funds that have never been available for Illinois projects because of the lack of matching state resources.
  • The RTA can proceed with badly needed rail transit projects into the suburbs and rebuild aging infrastructures on other lines.
  • A $35 million supplemental appropriation will help rehabilitate mass transit systems in downstate cities.

    Schools: A $2.2 billion allocation to the state's existing school construction fund.

  • The expansion of the existing program will include $1 billion in state bonded resources, combined with $1 billion in matching funds from local school districts. Also, $125 million will be available for "pay-as-you-go" projects in districts that can match the state's commitment.

    Fund for Illinois' Future: A $1.6 billion allocation for projects in local communities to bolster the state's economy, promote a clean environment and improve the overall quality of life throughout Illinois. These projects include:

  • Local water and sewer projects.
  • Brownfield and landfill mediation and redevelopment.
  • Local redevelopment projects.
  • Bike trails, parks and local recreation and sports facilities.
  • Resource preservation projects.
  • Non-bondable school or university repairs and improvements.
  • Assistance for local jails or juvenile detention centers.
  • Local railroad grade crossing safety improvements.
  • Historic preservation.
  • Technology infrastructure improvements.

    The Illinois FIRST program, which was approved by the General Assembly in May, is supported by $573 million in new revenues generated by increased fees. An additional $48 million in new revenues will be included by reducing the annual diversion of Road Funds money for non-highway purposes. In this plan, $48 million a year in Road Funds previously used for non-highway purposes will be dedicated for Illinois FIRST projects.

    The fee increases include a change in the vehicle registration fees from $48 annually to $78 annually, with corresponding increases for all vehicle registrations. Large truck and trailer registrations will increase 25 percent. Title transfer fees will increase from $13 to $65. Alcohol taxes will increase slightly above the national average.


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