U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   04/07/2003
 
Hon. Tim Martin
Secretary
Illinois Department of Transportation

TEA-21 Reauthorization

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you today concerning Illinois transportation needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to travel to Chicago to see firsthand Illinois’ extensive and impressive transportation system. I also want to thank Senator Richard Durbin and Senator Peter Fitzgerald for their strong support of Illinois transportation. The people of Illinois greatly appreciate their efforts to maintain and improve Illinois’ world-class transportation system.

Illinois is the transportation hub of the nation. Given its central geographic location in the United States and historical prominence in agriculture, manufacturing and commerce, Illinois has developed an extensive and intensively used system of transportation and transportation services.

There are over 288,000 lane miles of public highway in Illinois that carries over 102 million vehicles miles of travel annually. Overall, Illinois ranks third in total highway centerline-miles, third in total lane-miles, seventh in vehicles miles of travel, and fifth in total population but only eighth in highway funding.

In addition, Illinois has the second largest public transit system in the nation. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) provides technical assistance and administers state and federal funding to 50 public transit systems with 5,700 transit vehicles serving approximately 600 million passengers a year. The largest system, which carries more than 95 percent of the transit riders in Illinois, operates in northeastern Illinois under the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).

With its 7,300 route-mile network, Illinois has the second largest rail freight transportation system in the nation, which is the principle mode of transport for commodities such as coal and grain. In addition, Amtrak provides passenger rail service across the state, including 18 state-supported trains that serve more than 15 colleges and universities in Illinois. There are 50 Amtrak trains per weekday serving 3.6 million passengers a year. Chicago is a major national hub for Amtrak and is the transfer point for ten regional and transcontinental routes.

Finally, Illinois’ air transportation system, the second largest in the nation, is comprised of 120 public use airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports.

The extensive system reflects the dominant presence of transportation in Illinois where one of every five jobs is related to transportation, including construction jobs that are directly created by public investment in transportation. In FY 2002 alone, 86,000 private sector jobs in highway construction, 27,000 jobs in public transportation and 3,800 jobs in aviation were created. On a national level, for every one billion dollars invested in federal highway and transit infrastructure, 47,500 jobs are created and $6.2 billion in economic activity is generated.

IDOT is responsible for the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the 17,000-mile state highway system, which carries 230 million vehicle-miles of travel daily. IDOT also is also responsible for the administration of the local roads and streets program.

One of IDOT’s critical responsibilities is keeping the state’s 2,165-mile interstate highway network in good condition. This is an extensive highway system, the third largest in the nation, which serves the diverse needs for passenger and freight travel within and through the state. More than 50 percent of all goods that are shipped on highways move on the interstate system. In addition to their heavy use, Illinois’ interstates are among the oldest in the nation. That combination increases and accelerates rehabilitation needs.

The Interstate system is aging and, for a rapidly increasing number of segments, in Illinois and throughout the nation, it is no longer economical or efficient to simply patch and resurface pavements. For many miles of the Interstate highway system, complete reconstruction is now necessary and is very costly.

For example, two years ago, it cost $1.6 million for some partial resurfacing on the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-94) in Chicago. The scheduled and necessary reconstruction over the same stretch of road will cost $66 million per mile. Even the upcoming reconstruction of a basic four-lane urban Interstate through Peoria, Illinois is estimated to cost $50 million per mile.

Illinois has identified serious Interstate reconstruction and capacity needs through the year 2017. From 2000 to 2008, we have or we will reconstruct and add capacity for 125 miles of the Interstate highway system at a cost of $2.9 billion. From 2008 to 2012, we will need to reconstruct and add capacity for 460 miles at an estimated cost of over $8 billion. Finally, from 2012 to 2017, we plan to reconstruct and add capacity to another 370 miles at an additional cost of $6.6 billion.

IDOT is also responsible for the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of nearly 26,000 bridges, of which approximately 5,000 are deficient. This number does not reflect the need for new bridges, such as the new Mississippi River Bridge (MRB).

Southwestern Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri need another high capacity, urban-core river crossing. The eight-lane Poplar Street Bridge, the only core-area interstate Mississippi River crossing is severely overburdened, and its 40-year-old design is now substandard. The bridge carries traffic for three interstate highways: I-55, I-64, and I-70. These roads also share the same two-mile approach to the bridge on the Illinois side, which results in extreme congestion during peak travel periods.

If no improvements are made, projections indicate severe traffic congestion on all key interstate highway segments by the year 2020. Without the new bridge, rush hour congestion will double, lasting for three hours; the average delay will increase from ten minutes per vehicle today to 55 minutes in 2020. This gridlock could force commerce to the edges of the region, jeopardizing growth and development in the urban core. The MRB is necessary to sustain the kinds of growth envisioned by St. Louis 2004, Downtown Now!, the National Stockyards redevelopment and related core-area plans and proposals.

MRB land acquisition and Phase II engineering for contract plans are under way at a cost of $38 million. Continuation of this work, as well as other pre-construction work, is included in Illinois’ FY 2003-FY2007 Proposed Highway Improvement Program at a cost of $18.3 million. Missouri and Illinois are sharing the engineering costs for contract plans.

Construction of the MRB, including Illinois and Missouri connectors, is estimated to cost more than $1 billion. Illinois and Missouri will require special federal funding over and above regular program funds to pay for the construction of the MRB.

Preserving the condition and performance of the Interstate highway system, as well as bridges, is a key priority in Illinois and throughout the nation. The Discretionary Interstate Maintenance and Discretionary Bridge programs are essential to address the extraordinarily high cost Interstate and bridge projects that require exceptionally large levels of funding over short periods of time. Such projects cannot be practically accommodated within a state’s regular formula apportionment.

Unfortunately, the need for Discretionary Interstate Maintenance and Discretionary Bridge funds is far greater than the programs’ current funding levels. Many qualifying and deserving projects go unfunded under today’s program levels. The magnitude of requests for these two programs clearly demonstrates the need for increased funding. We urge the Committee to provide increased funding levels in the reauthorization legislation to meet the funding needs of all qualifying interstate maintenance and bridge projects.

Illinois also supports an increase for Intelligent Transportation System funding to assist us in providing homeland security to the citizens of Illinois and the travelling public. Only through new and expanded technology can we provide the level of security the public demands.

One of the most significant achievements of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century was the implementation of provisions that ensured that all Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenues were promptly utilized for highway and transit purposes as intended. We believe that this precedent should absolutely be followed in the reauthorization legislation.

Specifically, we recommend that the reauthorization legislation set total highway authorizations based on total projected HTF-Highway Account revenue. Second, it should utilize the existing “firewall” or other budget mechanisms to ensure that all funds authorized for each year can be spent. Third, it should refine the Revenue Aligned Budget Authority mechanism to curtail large swings in the annual adjustment.

Similarly, we believe that the reauthorization legislation should set transit authorization levels based on projected Mass Transit Account receipts along with a continued and guaranteed level of general funds. The reauthorization legislation should also continue the logical mechanism in TEA-21 and previous authorizations of distributing transit formula funds based on needs factors, such as population, bus vehicle miles and fixed guideway route and vehicle miles.

TEA-21 provided an historic increase in federal surface transportation funding, increasing highway funding by 44 percent. Unfortunately, Illinois received only a 29 percent increase in funding, the third lowest increase in the nation. Despite the size and importance of Illinois’ transportation system, our overall share of funding actually decreased under TEA-21.

In response, the Governor of Illinois, along with the Illinois General Assembly, created Illinois Funding for Infrastructure, Roads, Schools and Transit, commonly referred to as Illinois FIRST. Illinois FIRST is a five-year, $12 billion infrastructure-funding program that increased state revenues for improvements to our roads, transit systems, airports and passenger and freight railroads.

Under Illinois FIRST, the State has increased funding for its five-year highway program by over $3.7 billion and has added $2.1 billion in funding for its transit program. Overall, Illinois FIRST has added over $8 billion worth of transportation related infrastructure improvements in a five-year period, which will end June 30, 2004. Specifically, over the five-year life of Illinois FIRST, we were able to:

· Repair and rehabilitate 1,500 brides,

· Resurface 4,415 miles of roadway,

· Rehabilitate 795 miles of Interstate,

· Reconstruct two rapid transit lines in the city of Chicago, and

· Extend and modernize three commuter rail lines in the suburban Chicago area.

Most importantly, Illinois FIRST has allowed us to better leverage limited federal funding and has helped fill in the gaps in federal funding. However, Illinois FIRST is set to expire in 2004 and remaining revenue sources are unable to match the growth in inflation. At the same time, Illinois, like so many states across the nation, is facing a significant budget deficit.

As a result, we believe now is the time to substantially increase federal highway and transit funding resources to adequately address transportation needs in Illinois and throughout the nation. Regardless of how revenues are increased, there is no question that revenues must be increased. We urge the Committee to carefully consider all options for increasing federal funding for transportation infrastructure improvements.

We in Illinois are prepared to support the Committee’s efforts to continue the successes of TEA-21 and increase funding for the federal-aid surface transportation programs in the reauthorization legislation. We appreciate your commitment to Illinois’ and the nation’s world-class surface transportation system.