Metro-East News

IDOT plans to shut down projects starting June 30

The Illinois Department of Transportation is warning that road projects will be shut down June 30 if the state’s budget impasse isn’t resolved.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is warning that road projects will be shut down June 30 if the state’s budget impasse isn’t resolved. dholtmann@bnd.com

The Illinois Department of Transportation plans to begin shutting down construction projects beginning June 30 due to the budget impasse, a department spokeswoman said.

“We have started to inform our industry partners that all of our projects in both construction and engineering phases will be shutting down starting June 30 due to the majority party in the legislature’s failure to pass a balanced budget,” IDOT spokeswoman Gianna Urgo said in an email. “The conversation about how individual projects will wind down is continuing.”

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly have been unable to come to a budget agreement, and the state has been without a spending plan since July of last year.

In District 8, which includes St. Clair and Madison counties, there are $130.6 million worth of projects taking place during the the 2016 fiscal year, according to IDOT documents.

Those projects include the new ramp for eastbound traffic on the Martin Luther King Bridge to westbound Interstate 55/64, and the Illinois 15 bridge replacement over Illinois 13 and the Illinois Central Railroad near Belleville.

Jim Fields, who is the county engineer in St. Clair County, said he has yet to hear anything official from IDOT.

The county contributed money for engineering for the Rieder Road/Interstate 64 interchange project, but most of the construction money is federal dollars, Fields said.

Access issues at the interchange shouldn’t be a concern with a shutdown, but project finances could become a concern.

“If it’s prolonged for a very long time, it will delay the project,” Fields said. “As you delay the project, the costs seem to go up.”

Urgo called on the General Assembly to pass a stopgap proposal that has been offered by Republicans to keep projects going.

“The stopgap proposal is a fiscally responsible solution proposed by the Republican leaders that can be voted on today,” Urgo said. “There will be no interruption in our projects and programs if the General Assembly returns to Springfield and passes HB 6585/SB 3435.”

John Patterson, a spokesman for Democratic Senate President John Cullerton, said working groups of legislators are continuing to work to hammer out a deal that would provide spending authority for education and to keep road projects from being shut down.

“We remain hopefully optimistic that we could get an agreement that would prevent that from happening,” Patterson said.

Patterson pointed out the state recently sold $550 million in bonds to help pay for road projects, however Gov. Bruce Rauner needs authorization to spend it.

Active projects that would be suspended:

▪  New ramp off of Martin Luther King bridge to westbound I-55/I-64 near East St. Louis: Currently a lane is closed on westbound I-55/I-64. So far $13 million has been spent of the planned $27.7 million.

▪  Widening of Illinois 3 from two lanes to five lanes in Waterloo: So far $9.2 million of the planned $17.6 million has been spent. The project includes widening 3.5 miles of Illinois 3.

▪  Bridge replacements on Illinois 15 over Illinois 13 and Illinois Central Railroad: So far $10.6 million of the $14.4 million planned has been spent. Workers are replacing the Illinois 15 bridge over the railroad and Illinois 13, near Belleville.

▪  Illinois 157 bridge replacement over St. Clair Avenue and the MetroLink line: So far $3.4 million of the $9.3 million planned has been spent. Illinois 157 at the construction site is closed to accommodate work taking place between Fairview Heights and East St. Louis.

▪  Rieder Road Interchange in St. Clair County: So far $9.7 million of a planned $36.5 million has been spent. Workers are widening Interstate 64, constructing a new bridge over I-64, and constructing a diamond interchange at Rieder Road.

Return to BND.com for more on this developing story.

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter

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