Will County, Illinois, is taking this opportunity to provide you with information on its desires and concerns regarding the upcoming re-authorization of the federal transportation bill, TEA-21. This information is being submitted to you in correlation with the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ (EPW) field hearing on the transportation needs of Illinois.
Will County, Illinois, is the second largest County in northeastern Illinois and the 13th largest in the State with a current population of 536,000 and growth projections that have made it the fastest growing county in Illinois and placed it in the top ten fastest growing counties in the United States. The points listed below identify policies for the re-authorization of TEA-21 that are necessary to the improvement of mobility for all of Illinois and the County of Will.
· Increase federal funding levels of the transportation bill overall in order to meet critical needs for rehabilitation and new capacity. Increase Illinois’ share of formula-based funds, removing Illinois from donor status to recipient status due to infrastructure needs.
· Maintain the firewalls made part of the TEA-21 legislation, protecting funding levels for highway and transit programs from being diverted throughout the cycle of the bill.
· Continue the inclusion of quality core programs such as Infrastructure Maintenance (IM), Bridge, Surface Transportation Program (STP), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ), Enhancement, and National Highway System (NHS) and maintain or increase funding levels of these programs.
· Broaden the eligibility of CMAQ to allow eligibility of projects that prevent congestion levels from current levels used to determine eligibility based on the need to “mitigate” congestion.
· Maintain federal/local match guidelines at 80/20 for highway and transit projects
· New Transportation Security programs should be funded with General Revenues
· Develop a new federal funding program to address airport planning including land-use, transportation and tax issues.
· High Priority Project programs are an important mechanism for addressing critical infrastructure and planning needs and. should be in addition to formula-based funds.
· Eliminate the requirement for Major Impact Studies (MIS) as there purpose can be fulfilled through federal EIS process requirements.
· Develop a federal program to address rail freight issues.
These policy concepts for the re-authorization of TEA-21 can provide the structure and vehicle for the planning and funding of projects and programs that are crucial to maintaining quality of life for the citizens of Will County and the State of Illinois. Thank you for this opportunity.