November 07, 2021

Illinois to get at least $17 billion from President Biden infrastructure bill; could be more

Source: Chicago Sun-Times


WASHINGTON — The $1 trillion infrastructure bill, once signed into law by President Joe Biden, will pour an astounding $17 billion into Illinois for projects with the prospects of billions more from competitive grants.

“It’s easily the biggest infrastructure package in decades,” wrote Brookings Senior Fellow Adie Tomer.

“To put that new spending in perspective, it’s nearly enough to increase total federal infrastructure spending to the same average levels as during the New Deal. It’s safe to call this a generational investment,” concluded Tomer.

Spending from the ‘‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’’ will impact all of Illinois, from Chicago to Cairo.

If all goes as planned, broadband internet access in a few years will be accessible everywhere in Illinois, just like electricity.

There will be enough electric charging stations up and running to reduce or eliminate range anxiety, a major barrier to cleaner climate electric car sales.

Water quality will be improved with the removal of lead pipes, a particular problem in Chicago and Cook County.

The federal infrastructure funding will piggyback on Rebuild Illinois state programs and other infrastructure plans enacted by the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Pritzker said in a tweet, “Thanks to this historic investment, we will be able to widen the scope of our historic Rebuild Illinois capital program.”

The White House has estimated that in Illinois, “there are 2,374 bridges and over 6,218 miles of highway in poor condition.”

According to an analysis by the Illinois Democratic senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and the White House, the Illinois impact over five years is:

  • $1.7 billion to “improve drinking and wastewater infrastructure throughout Illinois,” building on legislative proposals Duckworth has been leading.
  • $9.8 billion for federal highway projects.
  • $1.4 billion for bridge replacement and repairs. Plus the state could get more if successful in competitive grants.
  • About $4 billion “to improve public transportation options across the state.”
  • At least $100 million for broadband coverage across the state. At present, there are about 228,000 Illinoisans who currently do not have broadband. About 2.9 million low-income Illinoisans would get an internet access benefit.
  • Approximately $616 million for airport improvements. Under a new Airport Terminal Improvement program, a $5 billion funding pool will be in place through Sept. 30, 2030, for the secretary of transportation to provide competitive grants for “projects that address the aging infrastructure of the nation’s airports.”
  • $149 million to fund the expansion of the electric charging network in Illinois. Plus, Illinois interests could compete for EV charging grants from a $2.5 billion pool.
  • $27 million to protect against wildfires
  • $22 million to protect against cyberattacks.

The infrastructure bill included a $1.7 billion competitive federal grant program pushed by Reps. Marie Newman, D-Ill., and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., — both on the House Transportation Committee — to upgrade transit stations accessibility for the disabled, aimed at bolstering the CTA’s improvements for people with disabilities.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., was able to get in the bill vehicle safety provisions dealing with drunk driving prevention, collision warnings, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warnings. According to the bill, within three years, new motor vehicles must “be equipped with advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology.”

The measure also has provisions to combat distracted driving, drafted by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.

By:  Lynn Sweet