Schilling Pushes IDOT on Prioritization of I-74 Bridge Print
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 15:50
Washington, DC – Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) today sent a letter to Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Ann L. Schneider, requesting information as to where on the Department’s priority list the I-74 Bridge resides, the criteria being used to prioritize Illinois’ infrastructure needs, and a meeting to discuss how the project can move forward.  

IDOT has confirmed that funding for its portion of the I-74 Bridge project’s construction has not been set aside.  Further, recent reports indicate that the Iowa Department of Transportation, due to IDOT’s lack of commitment to the project, is contemplating pulling back the funding they have secured, putting the Bridge’s planned construction in Fiscal Year 2016 in jeopardy.

“I understand that Illinois received $1.475 billion in federal funds in Fiscal Year 2011, and that projects totaling millions of dollars around the state, especially in the Chicago area, continue to be funded.” Schilling wrote.  “This suggests the state is capable of moving forward on projects it deems a priority; however it is hard to imagine a higher priority than a bridge that is functionally obsolete and handles 70,000 vehicle crossings per day when it was built for 48,000 such crossings.

“I understand that the planning processes between Illinois and Iowa are different.  However, in order for this project to come to fruition, a timeline is necessary for the respective Departments of Transportation, contractors, and the communities being impacted.  Because of these concerns I would appreciate an update on the current budget that IDOT has for the I-74 Bridge and the current shortfall on the project.”

[Text of today's letter below]

Secretary Schneider,

Thank you for responding to my letter regarding the prioritization of the I-74 Bridge project.  I also appreciate that the I-74 Mississippi River Bridge was listed as a priority for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) through your fiscal year 2013 Illinois Federal Fiscal Year Priorities Book.  I strongly support this large project that will create construction jobs, reduce traffic backups, improve air quality, and relieve congestion, and I appreciate that you are working with Iowa towards its finalization.  This project will bring much needed safety to that river crossing.

I respectfully request to know specifically where on your priority list this vital project resides, as well as the criteria being used to determine these priorities.  Recent news reports suggest that Illinois might not have money programmed for the I-74 Bridge Project.  If accurate, this could result in the Iowa Department of Transportation retracting its portion of the project funding and applying it elsewhere.  This would add further uncertainty to the completion date of this project, which is on your priority list.  

Furthermore, I understand that Illinois received $1.475 billion in federal funds in Fiscal Year 2011, and that projects totaling millions of dollars around the state, especially in the Chicago area, continue to be funded.  This suggests the state is capable of moving forward on projects it deems a priority; however it is hard to imagine a higher priority than a bridge that is functionally obsolete and handles 70,000 vehicle crossings per day when it was built for 48,000 such crossings.

I understand that the planning processes between Illinois and Iowa are different.  However, in order for this project to come to fruition, a timeline is necessary for the respective Departments of Transportation, contractors, and the communities being impacted.  Because of these concerns I would appreciate an update on the current budget that IDOT has for the I-74 Bridge and the current shortfall on the project.  

I would also like to request a meeting to discuss how we can move forward together.  This bridge is an important addition to our local community, region, and state.  By working together we can ensure that the people of Illinois can safely have their needs met and encourage growth in our local and state economy.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration.  I will continue to advocate for a long-term transportation bill that will provide the certainty needed to most effectively build America’s infrastructure.  I look forward to continuing our work to reinvest in the necessary infrastructure for our state to be safe and thrive.

Sincerely,
Bobby Schilling
Member of Congress

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