Expanding Roads

By: Joe Hamilton
By: Joe Hamilton

The roads were a hot topic Sunday morning as U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald met with local dignitaries in Rockford to discuss transportation issues facing the area.

If Senator Peter Fitzgerald gets his way the long awaited expansion of West State Street and IL Route 2 could get federal funding. There are still many hurdles that first need to be addressed.

The Rockford Better Roads Steering Committee and local politicians met with U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald to ask for federal funding on two key road construction projects in Winnebago county: the widening of West State Street and the broadening of north Illinois Highway 2.

Fitzgerald says he will ask congress to raise the amount of money Illinois gets from the Federal Motor Fuel Tax to pay for the construction of these projects. Right now Illinois gets 92 cents back for every dollar it pays in federal taxes at the pump. Fitzgearld says he will support changing the formula so that Illinois gets at least a dollar back for every one it spends.

The extra taxes would bring hundreds of millions of dollars for Illinois road improvements. In the stateline area, it will take nearly $70 million for the expansion of West State Street from the river to Meridian Road and north IL 2 from Rockton to Elmwood.

But the senator says he believes he has the support in Washington to drive his transportation bill through. Even if the Federal Motor Fuel Tax is changed, Washington will have to allocate money to these specific projects to guarantee money for their construction. If not the state will disperse the money. If that happens the county has to hope the state wants to fund these expansions or will have to wait five years for another transportation bill for a crack at federal dollars.


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