Illinois Gov. Rauner Drops Illiana Expressway Project Among Steps to Curb Projected Deficit

AASHTO Journal, 5 June 2015

Gov. Bruce Rauner directed the Illinois Department of Transportation to pull the planned bi-state “Illiana Expressway” project from its multiyear plan and immediately suspend all related contracts, citing his state’s “fiscal crisis” and an out-of-balance budget coming to him from the Illinois General Assembly.

Gov. Bruce Rauner Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The $1.5 billion Illiana project was envisioned as a joint effort by the Illinois and Indiana DOTs, plus a public-private partnership, to build a 47-mile tolled expressway running east-west between Interstate 55 in Illinois and I-65 in Indiana.

Rauner had earlier put the big project on hold, as part of a broad freeze on state discretionary spending once he took office Jan. 12.

Meanwhile, environmental groups were trying to get federal officials to reconsider and withdraw their approval for Illiana.

But his administration’s June 2 action would effectively kill the expressway project, reported Crain’s Chicago Business, which listed it as the biggest among a number of measures Rauner announced to quickly cut state spending by about $400 million.

“In light of the state’s current fiscal crisis and a lack of sufficient capital resources,” Rauner’s announcement said, “the Illiana Expressway will not move forward at this time. As a result, the Illinois Department of Transportation will remove the project from its current multi-year plan. It is the determination of IDOT that the project costs exceed currently available resources. The department will begin the process of suspending all existing project contracts and procurements.”

Among his new cuts, Rauner announced a freeze on purchases of state police vehicles, suspended tax incentives to woo businesses to the state plus approvals for film tax credits, and initiated an action to end the state’s airplane service starting July 1 that Crain’s said was mainly used to carry lawmakers to and from the state capital at Springfield.

“Many additional steps will be announced as they are finalized,” the announcement said.

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