Extra funding for IDOT OK'd by Blagojevich

Meagan Sexton

The Illinois Department of Transportation no longer has to worry about covering the cost of operations for the remainder of the month because Gov. Rod Blagojevich has signed a bill giving IDOT about $20 million in additional funding for this fiscal year.

“We’re very happy the legislature recognized the need that was there after such a busy winter,” Brian Williamsen, spokesman for the governor’s office, said Monday. “By signing this, we are confident that IDOT will be able to resume operations to its full capacity.”

At the end of April, IDOT said it spent far over the allotted $40 million on ice and snow removal this past winter and could not afford to continue some “non-essential” duties — such as roadkill removal and grass mowing — because of rising fuel costs.

Paris Ervin, spokeswoman for IDOT, said the department’s request for a supplemental appropriation came in the wake of one of the costliest winters in decades.

“IDOT spent more than double what was expected for snow- and ice-clearing operations,” Ervin said in a written statement. “The cost for items like fuel, overtime, road salt and pothole patching came to more than $87 million, compared with the $40 million in costs that was expected based on recent winters.”

Ervin said although the department has received extra funds to carry it through until the start of a new fiscal year July 1, it will continue to conserve fuel, where possible, during the warm weather months by cutting back on mowing and using only as many vehicles as are absolutely necessary during maintenance activities.

“We will carpool to meetings, keep our cars and trucks serviced and keep correct tire pressure to get maximum mileage,” Ervin said. “We will use teleconferences to reduce travel and will continue to adopt new policies to minimize fuel costs.

“In the wintertime, we are at the mercy of the elements. So, when there is ice and snow on the roads, we have to keep the trucks out until the roads are clear. We’re just trying to conserve what we can just in case.”

She said Friday’s signing of the supplemental funding legislation allows IDOT to step up roadway-maintenance activities as the summer driving season gets under way.

Meagan Sexton can be reached at (217) 782-6882 or