Illinois Infrastructure Investment

What is Rebuild Illinois?

Around every ten years, the State of Illinois introduces a new package of infrastructure programs and related revenue streams, and most recently established an ambitious plan known as "Rebuild Illinois". Launched in 2019, this program is one of the largest and most far-reaching infrastructure investment plans in the state's history.

Funding Overview

The Rebuild Illinois plan is an impressive financial commitment of $45 billion by the state to transform its infrastructure landscape. According to IDOT's Multi-Year Program for fiscal years 2024-2029, a significant portion of this funding, precisely $20.7 billion, is earmarked for various projects under IDOT's purview. 

The funding comes from various sources, including raised motor fuel taxes, increased vehicle registration fees, and funds from the sales tax on items like cigarettes. These additional revenues will be directed towards a plethora of infrastructure projects, demonstrating the state's resolve to address the much-needed refurbishment of its ageing infrastructure.

Within this massive funding, the allocation for different projects is also worth noting. Road and bridge improvements are set to receive the lion's share of the funding at $7.58 billion. Public transit is allocated $3.22 billion, while the aeronautics sector is set to receive $442 million. The rail/high-speed rail sector will be getting $679 million, and $580 million is earmarked for the Create Program, which focuses on improving freight movement. Finally, the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) will receive $50 million for projects catering to bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Diversity of Projects

The diverse allocation of funds under the Rebuild Illinois plan showcases the state's comprehensive approach towards improving its infrastructure. The state has set its sights not just on roads and bridges, but also on public transit, aeronautics, rail, and pedestrian facilities, indicating a multi-modal approach to its infrastructure overhaul.

Road and bridge improvements remain a top priority, as numerous structures in Illinois have passed their design lifespan. The significant allocation for these projects will ensure safer and more efficient transportation corridors across the state.

In addition, Illinois is making a concerted effort to improve its public transit systems. By allocating a considerable amount of funding for public transit, the state aims to enhance its bus and rail services, leading to increased connectivity and convenience for its residents and visitors.

Investments in aeronautics are designed to improve Illinois's airports, ensuring enhanced safety and capacity to cater to the increasing demand for air travel. At the same time, the investments in rail and high-speed rail would bolster the state's efforts to connect different regions more effectively.

Under the Create Program, the focus is on freight mobility and the alleviation of congestion issues, a critical aspect considering the importance of freight movement for the state's economy. The state also recognizes the rising trend of active transportation modes like cycling and walking. Through the ITEP, funds will be channeled to create more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly infrastructure.

Timeline for the Funding and Projects

The Rebuild Illinois program is not a short-term initiative but a well-thought-out plan extending from 2024 to 2029. The IDOT's Multi-Year Program for these fiscal years lays out a clear and detailed roadmap for implementing the various projects.

In this six-year timeframe, the state aims to improve 2,779 miles of highways and undertake repairs covering 7.9 million square feet of bridge decks. Projects will be rolled out over this period, ensuring a steady pace of improvement and development across the state's infrastructure landscape.

Each fiscal year, projects will be selected based on a thorough analysis of current and upcoming infrastructure needs, factoring in safety, traffic volume, environmental impact, and local input. This careful and considered approach ensures that each project receives the attention it needs and that the funds are utilized optimally.

Fiscal Year 2025 Proposed Capital Budget

The Illinois Governor's fiscal year 2025 proposed capital budget details significant investments in road and bridge infrastructure across the state. Here are the key highlights:



How are Capacity Projects Decided?

What is a capacity project?

In the context of transportation infrastructure, a "capacity project" typically refers to a development that increases the capacity of a transportation system. This could be a roadway, a railway line, a pedestrian walkway, a bicycle path, or a transit route. The primary goal of such projects is to accommodate a larger volume of traffic, reduce congestion, and improve overall efficiency of the transportation system.

For instance, a capacity project could involve widening a highway to add additional lanes, extending a rail line to serve more areas, constructing a new bridge to alleviate traffic on existing ones, or building new pedestrian or bicycle paths to encourage alternate modes of transport.

The need for capacity projects usually arises from factors such as population growth, increased vehicular traffic, aging infrastructure, changes in land use, or a desire to encourage public transportation or non-motorized transportation methods. The selection and prioritization of these projects often involve a careful analysis of various factors including current and projected traffic volumes, safety considerations, environmental impacts, and economic costs and benefits.

How is Illinois changing its approach to capacity projects?

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has devised a unique system referred to as the "data-driven decisions tool" to prioritize capacity projects. 

What is the Data-Driven Decisions Tool?

The data-driven decisions tool is a comprehensive and objective evaluation process that IDOT uses to make informed decisions regarding the selection and prioritization of capacity projects. It incorporates a wide array of data, including information on safety, congestion, economic impact, and the environment, to rank projects based on their potential benefit and impact.

Established through Public Act 102-0573, the data-driven decisions tool was designed to create a more transparent, equitable, and efficient process for determining which capacity projects should be prioritized. The act mandates that IDOT should use a quantitative scoring process to evaluate the benefits and impacts of proposed projects, helping the department to allocate resources more effectively.

The act also outlines several key categories that the tool must evaluate, including improvements in safety, reductions in congestion, positive economic impacts, and environmental benefits. Each project is then scored based on its performance in these categories. The scores are used to prioritize projects, with those earning higher scores typically receiving funding and resources before those with lower scores.

The data-driven decisions tool represents a significant shift in transportation planning. Instead of relying on subjective judgment or political considerations, it uses a rigorous, data-oriented process to guide decision-making. This approach helps ensure that resources are allocated to the projects that can deliver the most significant benefits to the residents of Illinois.

Consideration of the Illinois Transportation Network

The data-driven decisions tool is intrinsically linked to the broader Illinois transportation network. This network is a vast and complex system encompassing highways, transit systems, railroads, airports, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. It plays a crucial role in the state's economy, facilitating the movement of people and goods across Illinois and beyond.

The data-driven decisions tool takes this broad transportation network into account by considering how each capacity project can improve the overall system. For example, it evaluates whether a project can alleviate congestion on a busy highway, enhance safety at a dangerous intersection, stimulate economic development in a struggling region, or reduce harmful environmental impacts.

In essence, the tool recognizes that every capacity project does not exist in isolation but is a part of the interconnected Illinois transportation network. By considering how each project can enhance the overall system, the tool helps ensure that IDOT's investments lead to a more effective, efficient, and sustainable transportation network for Illinois.



How to Find Illinois Transportation Projects?

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) project information is published through the Multi-Year Program (MYP). The MYP is a comprehensive document that outlines the state's planned transportation projects over a multi-year period. This is typically organized by the fiscal year and further segmented by district, offering a detailed view of the projects within each region. 

In addition to geographical divisions, IDOT further categorizes projects into specialized breakouts. These are listings that compile projects based on unique characteristics or parameters. These may include breakouts for Bridge Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, ITS and Operations, and Bicycle and Pedestrian accommodations, among others.