QUINCY – Standing in front of Quincy Memorial Bridge in Clat Adams Bicentennial Park, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today renewed his call to the Illinois General Assembly to put partisan differences aside and approve a $10 billion state capital investment plan. In the wake of the tragic bridge collapse in Minnesota, the Governor called on lawmakers to make needed investments to keep Illinois’ infrastructure system sound.
“Illinois is fortunate to have one of the safest bridge networks in the country,” the Governor said, referring to federal statistics that show Illinois has the fifth safest bridge system in the U.S. “But the terrible tragedy in Minnesota underscores what I have been saying for the last several years. It is critical that we make major investments in our infrastructure - both for the health of our economy and public safety. As we continue to negotiate the state budget in Springfield, we need to make sure a capital plan is part of the final agreement.”
Under the proposed $10 billion capital plan being discussed in Springfield, Illinois would leverage additional federal funds for a total of $22 billion for infrastructure needs. The capital investment plan would support an estimated 694,000 jobs statewide. The Governor has proposed and lobbied for capital investment and job creation proposals for four years, but those plans failed to gain bi-partisan support from the Legislature.
“IDOT joins the Governor in calling for a capital spending plan to boost our investment in critical infrastructure,” said IDOT’s Acting Secretary Milt Sees. “We know that we have one of the best and safest transportation networks in the U.S. In fact, we are a transportation hub for the nation. But we also know that as the Governor has said, we will need to make additional investments in our infrastructure in the immediate future in order to improve the system and pave the way to our future prosperity in the 21st Century.”
On Thursday, Governor Blagojevich directed IDOT and the Illinois Tollway to immediately conduct additional inspections of critical bridges in Illinois. Bridge inspectors from IDOT and the Tollway will be examining bridges that are similar in design to the Minnesota bridge, are under construction, or that carry high volumes over waterways.
Critical spans, including those crossing the Mississippi River and other major waterways, will be visually inspected immediately, with more detailed inspections in coming days using high tech equipment. Visual inspectors will be looking for general structure alignment and anything out of the ordinary. The detailed inspections will assess beam deterioration, determine the condition of the connections and identify cracks and anything that is out of alignment.
The Illinois Tollway has 545 bridges, with 53 that span lengths over 20 feet. The Tollway has an active and aggressive maintenance schedule. These bridges are inspected every two years in accordance with the latest Federal and State guidelines. The Tollway does not have any bridges on the system that are similar to the steel truss bridge in Minnesota. In addition to the bi-annual inspections, the Tollway also provides full-time inspection of all bridges under construction.