IDOT files report aimed at justifying employees' move

Doug Finke

State transportation officials have prepared a two-inch-thick report to justify transferring more than 100 traffic-safety employees from Springfield to the far southeastern town of Harrisburg.

The report was delivered to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability as part of a process in which state lawmakers review plans to close state facilities.

Despite that requirement, and a public hearing set for the end of this month, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said last week in announcing the move, “This is a decision that I made… This is something that has already happened.”

COGFA executive director Dan Long said Wednesday the documents provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation will not be made public for several days.

“I think we will try to sort through this document, have the staff review it and get information to the co-chairmen,” Long said. “It is a fairly large document.”

Long said the information provided by IDOT includes a business analysis of the move, a cost-benefit analysis, economic- and environmental-impact reports and an appraisal of the site in Harrisburg, where IDOT plans to purchase part of a building to house the relocated Division of Traffic Safety.

The State Journal-Register has filed a request under the state Freedom of Information Act to obtain the documents.

Under state law, when officials plan to close a state facility, they must provide written documentation to COGFA on where the employees will be moved, a cost analysis of moving them, the availability of alternative sites near their current location, the economic impact on the city where they are now located and the effect on state services of making the move.

COGFA also asked for information about the headcount of employees at IDOT’s headquarters over the last three years and a floor plan of the building.

The commission consists of 12 lawmakers, six Republicans and six Democrats evenly divided between the House and Senate. They will conduct a public hearing Thursday, July 31, to listen to arguments for and against the move. The commission will then cast a vote on whether to endorse relocating the division.

IDOT has argued the state will save money by relocating the division to southern Illinois. It says the leased building where the employees are now is too expensive, although some critics have argued the state is inflating the cost of the Springfield office space.

Area lawmakers and Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin say they believe there is plenty of less-expensive office space in the city where the employees could be moved. Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, and Reps. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, and Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg, also toured some state-owned and leased facilities in Springfield that they said had vacant space where the employees could be housed.

But the Department of Central Management Services, which oversees state office space, says the space is already committed to other uses, though it has never explained what those uses are.

Both traffic-safety employees and the unions representing them say the move will create great personal hardships, forcing them to leave family and friends in Springfield if they want to keep their jobs.

Blagojevich said last week he expects most of the employees will elect to stay in Springfield. He said they will be offered other state jobs if they choose not to move.

Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or