NEWS

Officials tout strong construction season

Doug Finke

Gov. Pat Quinn and state transportation officials today touted an election-year highway plan that they said will create thousands of construction jobs over the next several years.

"This will be the biggest construction season of all time for Illinois," Quinn said at a Statehouse news conference to present the plan.

Among projects included in the multi-year plan are resurfacing six miles of Interstate 55 north of Springfield and adding lanes to Wabash Avenue from Koke Mill Road to Curran.

State Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said the state plans to have about $5 billion worth of projects under construction this year. At this time a year ago, he said, less than $3 billion were under way. A little less than 80 percent of funding for those projects is federal money, he said.

Hannig said the road plan, which covers a multi-year period, will create "167,000 direct construction jobs."

State lawmakers a year ago finally agreed on a public works construction program that includes highway projects. A significant funding source for that program is plan to have the state license video poker machines located in many bars and collect taxes on them. A number of communities, though, have decided not to allow video gambling, an option given them by lawmakers.

Quinn said that is not a concern in paying for projects announced today.

"We have ample money in the first several years to pay for everything," Quinn said.

More details about the program can be found at http://www.dot.il.gov.