Some Illinois congressmen say it will take a bipartisan effort to save funding for public transportation across the state. Illinois stands to lose $650 million in federal motor fuel tax under a transportation bill that is poised to come up for a vote in the U.S. House this week. U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) and U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-Winnetka) say about $450 million is used for local public transportation projects, including rail modernization and other capital infrastructure.
Click here for summary
“We need a bipartisan bill that will put people back to work, reduce traffic congestion and create an efficient transportation system that spurs job growth,” Lipinski said. Dold says cuts must be made everywhere, but he concedes that these cuts won’t move Illinois or the nation forward. While he is happy to see Congress moving forward with a transportation bill, Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Doug Whitley says it can’t pass as-is. “The House version would put hundreds of millions of dollars for transit in real peril, while drastically reducing funding for Illinois highways,” Whitley said. “We must get serious about investing in our roads, bridges, transit and rail systems. Failure to do so will weaken businesses and the economy here in the transportation hub of America.”
Aside from the money aspect, there’s concern with the environmental impact. “America’s addiction to oil imposes mounting costs to our environment, economy, national security and health,” said Max Muller, director of Environment Illinois. “It doesn’t have to be this way. We can invest in clean, efficient travel choices such as public transit that will move our nation away from oil and toward a brighter healthier future.”