PEORIA – Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by state and local officials to unveil new signs that name a section of Interstate 74 through Peoria in honor of Ray LaHood, who has served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Congressman. The signs will be posted on the eastbound lanes before the Sterling Avenue exit and the westbound lanes before the Murray Baker Bridge.
“Ray LaHood has been a leader for his country and for the Peoria area,” Governor Quinn said. “This is a fitting tribute to a man who has such expertise in transportation issues and interest in getting things done. Now everyone going through Peoria on I-74 will be reminded of Ray’s service to the nation and to every resident of his Congressional district. His shining example of civility and bipartisanship serves as an inspiration for us all.”
"I am honored to have my name associated with a key part of Illinois' transportation system," LaHood said. "During my time as Transportation Secretary and representing this state in Congress, I saw firsthand how Illinois' roads, bridges and hard-working citizens truly make us the crossroads of the nation."
An Illinois House of Representatives Joint Resolution was adopted unanimously on Nov. 7, 2013 and authorizes the naming of the six-mile stretch of road the Ray LaHood Highway. It was sponsored by State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) and State Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria). The section of highway runs from the Murray Baker Bridge to the Sterling Avenue exit in Peoria, and corresponds to the section that was rebuilt under a project LaHood championed while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Renaming this part of Interstate 74 is a small way our community and state can show its appreciation for Ray LaHood’s lifetime of service,” Representative Gordon-Booth said. “I would personally like to thank Secretary LaHood for the wonderful example he set for me and other elected officials.”
"It is important to give recognition to former Congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, for helping to make the I-74 project happen,” Senator Koehler said. It is our way of saying thank you, as a community and as a state."
Secretary LaHood, a Republican, served as U.S. Congressman for 14 years in the 18th Congressional district where he served on the House Appropriations and Intelligence Committees. After his retirement from the House, LaHood served as the 16th Secretary of Transportation from 2009 to 2013 under President Barack Obama. During his tenure, the U.S. Department of Transportation was responsible for improving over 350,000 miles of highway, repairing of 20,000 bridges and 6,000 miles of laid railroad track. Secretary LaHood championed key transportation safety issues which included reducing distracted driving, taking steps to address airline pilot fatigue and working to improve fuel efficiency.
Before he was elected to Congress, Secretary LaHood served as chief of staff to U.S. House Minority Leader Robert Michel from 1982 to 1994. He was director of the Rock Island County Youth Services Bureau from 1972 to 1974, chief planner of the Bi-States Metropolitan Planning Commission from 1974 to 1977 and district administrative assistant for U.S. Congressman Tom Railsback from 1977 to 1982.
Secretary LaHood is married to Kathy LaHood, and they have four children and eleven grandchildren.
Last year, the City of Peoria designated the intersection of Main and Monroe as Ray LaHood Roadway to honor the former Congressman and Cabinet official.