As you know, I am scheduled to present oral testimony at the committee’s field hearing on April 7, 2003 at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the committee and would like to provide you in advance of my testimony details about DuPage County’s top priorities but more importantly, why the TEA-21 Reauthorization Legislation is so critical to the State of Illinois.
The Director of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Tim Martin, will detail for committee members, as part of his testimony, the state’s priorities as they relate to the TEA-21 Reauthorization Bill. At the top of that list is increasing Illinois’ overall share of federal highway dollars through a formula adjustment. Six years ago, Illinois received 94 cents for each dollar it provided to the national transportation program. Additional items the state would like to incorporate into the reauthorization bill include:
* Full Utilization of Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue for highway and transit programs; * The Exclusion of High Priority Project and Discretionary Funds from the Minimum Guarantee; * Addressing the reconstruction needs of our Interstate System; * Increasing funding levels for discretionary Interstate Maintenance and Bridge programs; * A Continuation of the current policy to distribute all transit formula funds on needs-based distribution formulas; * Streamlining the transportation planning, programming and project development processes; and * Removal of the existing three-year limit on the use of CMAQ funds to support operation costs of the Inspection and Maintenance vehicle emissions testing facilities, which have proven to be an effective tool towards reducing air pollution.
DuPage County, with over 900,000 residents, a size greater than the population of seven states, is seeking federal assistance for roadway and public transit projects to address many regional problems. One of the top priorities of our region is the 4.2 mile extension of the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway and the construction of a 6.6 mile (toll highway) Bypass Road in order to provide Western Access to O’Hare International Airport. This project would greatly improve the transportation network of eastern DuPage County, offer increased employment opportunities for over 40,000 people, provide tremendous economic benefits for the local economy (estimated at over $5 billion annually), and allow convenient access to O’Hare Airport for the traveling public. The State of Illinois needs an estimated $1.5 billion in federal funding to make this project a reality and to provide a much needed western entrance to the world’s busiest airport.
Attached for your review is a document that summarizes DuPage County’s transportation priorities by congressional district. The list details not only highway projects but also the DuPage Area Transit Plan. This plan proposes capital improvements to our public transit system that will reduce highway congestion. and link labor markets with employment opportunities.
As Chairman of the second largest county in the state, I would like to thank the committee for traveling to Illinois to receive our input and to consider our future transportation needs as part of the reauthorization bill. The TEA-21 reauthorization bill allows our region an unprecedented opportunity for regional cooperation and growth.
Again, thank you for your consideration and for the invitation to appear before the committee.
Robert J. Schillerstrom Chairman
DuPage County Board