Metro-East News

You’re paying more in gas taxes in Illinois. Now here’s what you get in return

In July, motorists saw the gas tax in the state double, leading to higher prices at metro-east gas pumps when compared to St. Louis. And annual vehicle registrations stickers will be going up by $50 starting next year.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is now saying what motorists will get in return.

IDOT District 8, which includes St. Clair, Madison Monroe, Clinton, Randolph and Bond counties, among others, is slated to see $2.36 billion of work during the six-year period, or about 13.5% of the planned spending on highways, even though just 5.78% of the state’s population lives here.

IDOT has released its annual multi-year plan for road improvements, the first plan to take into account the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan. The annual plan is twice as a big because of the capital plan thanks to those new revenues.

According to the six-year plan, the state has plans to spend $17.6 billion between the 2020 fiscal year and the 2025 fiscal for improvements on state highways. Of that total, only $6.3 billion will be spent in the Chicago metropolitan area, including the collar counties. That amount represents about 37% of the state program spending, according the highway improvement program, even though nearly two-thirds of the state’s population is in the northeast corner of the state.

roadwork
With the Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan in place, IDOT plans $2.36 billion worth of work during the next six years in District 8, which includes St. Clair, Madison Monroe, Clinton, Randolph and Bond counties, among others. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

Acting IDOT Secretary Omer Osman said each IDOT district in the state has unique needs.

“Regardless of what area, we have looked at the entire system holistically,” Osman said.

Next year when the Illinois Department of Transportation plans to carry out much-needed work on Interstate 255, it will be just the beginning of the road construction residents will see locally as part of the state’s $45 billion capital program.

Plans include a rehabilitation for the Poplar Street collector distributor east of the bridge, a bridge replacement on Interstate 270 over the Mississippi River, and resurfacing of I-255 from Dupo to Collinsville Road.

Engineering for the I-270 bridge project is scheduled to take place during the 2020 fiscal year, but construction won’t begin for three years, said IDOT Region 5 Acting Engineer Keith Roberts.

The actual project would take two to three construction season to complete, Roberts said.

Paying for the work

In order to pay for the increased amount of road construction projects, the legislature approved with the governor’s signature an increase in the gas tax from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents per gallon. The state also decided to peg the gas tax to inflation. The capital plan also increased vehicle registration fees by $50 to help pay for road work.

“It’s never easy raising any taxes, or raising any fees,” said state Sen. Chris Belt, D-Cahokia. “That’s not what we want to do, but Illinois is in a condition to where we have to do those things to get our infrastructure together and we’re doing it in such a way … where we hopefully will never have to come down this road again. We’re putting money in a lock box that will always be available for infrastructure, roads, bridges, that money can’t go anywhere else. While it’s painful, it’s necessary.”

Belt said he is satisfied with how the committed dollars were split between the Chicago-area and downstate.

“I’m satisfied because I understand, dollar for dollar, downstate gets more than upstate,” Belt said. “Downstate gets more bang for our buck.”

State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, who supported the capital bill and the associated tax increases, lauded the announcement of the multi-year plan.

“I look forward to the completion of these much-needed road and bridge projects,” Meier said. “Making these critical infrastructure improvements will help growth and keeps jobs in our region, as well as improve the safety of our roadways.”

Local projects

In St. Clair County, there are 15 projects planned for the 2020 fiscal year worth a total of $83.35 million. There is an additional $735 million worth of work on 89 projects between the 2021 through 2025 fiscal years.

Among the projects in St. Clair County are:

  • American with Disabilities Act improvements along Highway 50 in O’Fallon from 3rd Street to Seven Hills Road.
  • Planning for an Illinois 111 bridge replacement over Interstate 64. Actual construction has yet to be scheduled.
  • $2.9 million worth of patching work of I-64 near Illinois 158.
  • A bridge repair on U.S. 50 over Silver Creek.
  • Illinois 13 and Illinois 15 from Rogers Drive in Freeburg to the Kaskaskia River is slated to see repaving and other improvements this year.
  • Illinois 158 and US 50 from US 50 to Illinois 161 will be repaved.

Madison County is slated to $42 million worth of work on state projects during the 2020 fiscal year, and an additional $672 million of work between the 2021 and 2025 fiscal years.

Notable projects include during the 2020 fiscal year:

  • ADA improvements along Illinois 159 and Illinois 157 in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon.
  • Illinois 162 between Illinois 159 and Illinois 157 is set to be repaved.
  • I-255 between I-270 and Illinois 143 also will be repaved.

Some of the large projects within St. Clair and Madison counties during in the 2020-2025 fiscal years include:

  • Rehabilitation of eastbound I-55/I-64 from the Poplar Street Bridge to Trendley Avenue
  • Reconstruction of I-55/I-64/U.S. 40/Illinois 3 from the Mississippi River to the I-64 Interchange
  • Reconstruction of the I-64/Illinois 111 interchange
  • Additional lanes on I-64 from Greenmount Road to Illinois 158 for additional lanes and bridge repairs.
  • A new interchange on I-255 at Imbs Station Road with a connection to Davis Street Ferry Road in Dupo
  • Widening and resurfacing of I-270 from the Mississippi River to Illinois 203.
  • Reconstruction of the I-270 at Illinois 111 interchange
  • Relocation of the Illinois 162/157 intersection from north of the Illinois 157 junction, to south of the Illinois 157 junction.
Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.
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