Illinois Lawmakers, Officials Call For More Federal Support For Transportation Projects

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Left to right: U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) addresses a panel of Illinois leaders during a hearing in the Illinois Capitol on June 11, 2013 as fellow Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) look on. (Chris Slaby/WUIS)

A trio of U.S. Representatives on the House’s Transportation committee were in Springfield Tuesday to talk with regional leaders about the future of funding state projects.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said Illinois needs a consistent way to generate money for endeavors like the plan to link Chicago to St. Louis with high-speed rail.

DAVIS: “Whatever ideas you have, please put them forth to us.”

But regional and state leaders say the federal government needs to step up and do more.

Illinois transportation secretary Ann Schneider said the feds have their own speeding up to do, when it comes to making decisions about the high-speed rail project.

And Springfield Mayor Mike Houston is calling for more federal money.

A key part of the high-speed rail project calls for relocating train traffic away from Springfield’s 3rd Street to 10th Street.

Springfield taxpayers are having to pay more in sales taxes and the town is borrowing money over the next decade. But those proceeds are going to other local infrastructure needs like streets, sidewalks and storm sewers.

HOUSTON: “Local, state, and the federal government have failed many central Illinois communities by allowing infrastructure needs to go unmet. The residents of Springfield can see the city’s infrastructure crumbling around them.”

Houston acknowledged an increase of federal commitments appears to be unlikely.

The federal transportation fund currently has an $8 billion deficit.

—Chris Slaby

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