SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today presented a $3.8 billion fiscal year 2004 budget for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) that balances financial difficulty with economic realities.
The proposed budget, which is nearly $700 million dollars less than the FY03 budget of $4.5 billion, includes $59.6 million from the General Revenue Fund, an increase of $1.2 million from FY03.
“The budget Gov. Blagojevich is proposing for IDOT recognizes the tough economic realities we are faced with, but at the same time allows the department to fulfill its mission,” said Transportation Secretary Timothy W. Martin. “The FY04 budget enables the department to continue to improve the state’s transportation system. It also lays the groundwork for the future, making it safer and easier to transport the goods and services that will drive Illinois’ economy in the 21st century.”
Last year’s early retirement incentive resulted in more than 1,100 employees leaving IDOT; less than half of those will be replaced. IDOT’s FY04 headcount will be approximately 6,466, down from FY03’s 7,175. The reduction will not affect the department’s key function of maintaining the state’s highways and bridges.
The comprehensive transportation budget provides for the continued modernization of public transportation, improvement of roads and bridges, and upgrades of rail freight and passenger service. IDOT’s total FY04 budget will be nearly $7.7 billion, which includes $3.9 billion in reappropriations to pay for transportation improvements already underway and carried over to FY04.
The governor’s proposed budget includes $1.7 billion for highway construction and maintenance, with overall reappropriations totaling more than $3 billion in FY04. A new federal transportation bill should be enacted in the fall and may mean greater highway program funding in FY 04 and beyond. This budget also will ensure that IDOT captures every available federal dollar.
Other major expenditures in the proposed budget include:
HIGHWAYS AND BRIDGES
- $533.3 million to assist public transportation in northeast Illinois and downstate communities with the purchase of buses and transit cars and to provide operating assistance that holds down the cost of fares.
- $98.8 million for airport improvements, including $5 million for land acquisition for the south suburban airport in the Chicago area and $16 million in state funds to supplement the state/local airport program for projects at local airports when federal funds are not available.
- $41.8 million for rail improvements, including $25 million for high-speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis. This also provides $12 million to support rail passenger service.
- $8.2 million for traffic safety to continue anti-drunk driving projects and to boost seat belt usage, with particular emphasis on local law enforcement projects.
Gov. Blagojevich recommended $1.7 billion FY 04 for constructing, reconstructing and repairing highways and bridges. This is $600 million dollars less than in the last three budgets, but reflects the governor’s commitment to economic development in difficult financial times.
Even though less funding will be available, the driving public should not detect a noticeable difference in the quality of the state’s highway system; there is no anticipated increase in the number of substandard bridges. Reducing congestion will continue with a combination of road improvements and traffic management technologies.
This spring, Gov. Blagojevich will release a detailed list of highway and bridge improvements for FY04 and their estimated costs.
Some projects that are anticipated to be included in this highway program are listed below.
- Advance work for the reconstruction of Interstate 90/94 (the Dan Ryan Expressway) from 31st Street to south of the Interstate 57 interchange.
- Advance work for the reconstruction of Interstate 80 from Interstate 94 to the Indiana state line.
- Reconstruction of Interstate 74 through Peoria.
- Reconstruction of Interstate 64 through St. Clair County.
Local governments will continue to receive assistance in FY04 through the motor fuel tax distribution program and other specific programs.
The FY04 proposed budget includes-
- $643 million in direct motor fuel tax allocations to counties, townships and municipalities for the repair of local roads and bridges.
- $43 million for special assistance to needy counties and townships for road repairs.
- $10 million for an economic development program that will support road access improvements for industrial or business centers across the state, thereby assisting in job retention and creation.
Public transportation plays an important role in the state’s overall transportation system and the governor has budgeted $533 million in operating assistance and capital improvements in his FY04 budget. These funds will support the purchase of new buses, rapid transit rail and commuter rail cars, as well as the rehabilitation of structures, tracks and stations. Included in the proposed funding:
$354 million in operating assistance for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).
$68.3 million in operating assistance for transit systems serving downstate communities.
$91 million for bus and rail improvements in northeastern Illinois that will leverage a federal investment of $320 million.
$5.0 million for capital projects in downstate urban and rural areas for the purchase of buses, support equipment and bus facilities that will leverage $28 million in federal funds.
Gov. Blagojevich is proposing a budget that includes $98.8 million in state, local and federal funds for work at airports across Illinois. These funds will be used to increase airport safety and to rehabilitate and build runways and taxiways at local airports. The comprehensive airport improvement plan promotes economic growth by increasing Illinois’ ability to attract businesses.
Those projects important to local airports and the communities they serve but unlikely to receive federal funding have been slated to receive $16 million dollars in bond funding. Another $5.6 million for the Local Airport Revolving Fund has been set aside so that it can be borrowed locally at or below market rates to purchase land for future growth.
The proposed FY ’04 budget includes $41.9 million to support rail passenger service and rail freight improvements, including the following projects:
- $25 million for the continuing work on high-speed rail passenger service on the Chicago to St. Louis corridor.
- $12 million to operate and assist state-sponsored Amtrak trains between Chicago and Carbondale, Quincy, St. Louis, Missouri and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
- $4.8 million for rail freight access improvements to foster economic growth.