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Roughly every three days, one person biking or walking is killed by someone driving a car in the Chicago region.

Good news on Illiana, but more work to be done

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Finally, some good news coming from our state capital for people who bike, walk and ride transit.

On Tuesday Gov. Rauner announced the Illiana Tollway will not move forward and removed the project from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) current multi-year plan. The state determined “project costs exceed currently available resources.”

The proposed highway would have linked Interstate 55 with I-57 and I-65 in Will County, serving only 8,000 vehicles per day at a cost of over $1 billion.

Active Trans is part of a diverse coalition of advocacy groups and residents who came out against the project, including the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), No Illiana 4 US, Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC)Sierra Club Illinois, Openlands, Midewin Heritage Association, Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and Illinois PIRG. The coalition delivered more than 12,000 petition signatures against the project to the Governor’s office in February.

In 2013, an analysis by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) determined the highway’s traffic and toll projections would fall way short, leaving taxpayers responsible for filling a gap ranging from $440 million to $1.1 billion. We believe taxpayer dollars could be better spent on infrastructure priorities that carry far greater benefits, like upgrading rapid transit and commuter rail lines, and critical projects like CTA’s planned Red Line South Extension.

Thanks to supporters like you, the tollway is now off the table for now, but that doesn’t mean our work is done in Springfield. The spring legislative session concluded on Sunday with little resolution to many major issues facing the state, including how to fund transit and safe biking and walking infrastructure. Legislators will now work into the summer to try to make progress on these critical budget decisions.

Other than the Illiana, the news hasn't been good for people who care about active transportation. Speaker Madigan has introduced a mini-capital bill that would give IDOT access to $1.1 billion in bonds for road projects, but nothing for transit or safe biking and walking infrastructure. Meanwhile, Gov. Rauner continues to champion a budget proposal with across-the-board cuts for transit, including slashing nearly one-third of state funding for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) while adding $120 million to the state's road construction fund.

Sign and share our letter to legislators to support funding transit and safe biking and walking programs like Safe Routes to School.

Graphic Credit: Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC)