A U.S. senator says Illinois will receive a fair share of a transportation bill being negotiated in Congress. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) backs a bill that would invest $3.7 billion in Illinois highways and mass transit over the next two years. Overall the bill totals $109 billion. Durbin says the bill is particularly helpful to Illinois, guaranteeing funding for projects ranging from bridge work over the Mississippi River and the reconstruction of Wacker Drive in Chicago.
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Durbin says while there is money set aside for certain projects of national significance, there are no earmarks in the bill. Instead money is distributed by category. “We do things by category now,” Durbin said. “When we talk about the CTA for example, instead of saying that we’re putting money into rebuilding the Red Line, we say …that aging transit systems will be able to receive funds to rebuild their service.” Durbin says it is up to the state to determine where the federal funds should be spent. Durbin is hoping more members in the House come on board and throw their support behind the Senate bill. The House recently passed a three-month extension of the current transportation program. A separate bill proposed in the House would cut funding for Amtrak, eliminate competitive grant programs and cuts part of Illinois’ highway funding. A conference committee meets starting Tuesday to reconcile House and Senate bills.