ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Some of the bridges we drive on every day are structurally deficient, including one of Rockford’s busiest, according to Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and it will cost over $9 billion to fix.
Now, a transportation bill sits waiting for congress’ signature in the middle of a state budget crisis.
According to Illinois senators, 16% of the state’s bridges are unsafe.
“Bridges across the state received a rating of a C-. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to drive across a bridge that has a C- rating,” says Senator Steve Stadelman.
A long-term transportation bill that passed in July, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act will secure transportation projects for at least six years and pay for half of those six. More than 80% of Illinois transportation spending comes from federal funds.
“Congress is reauthorizing the bill for 30 days or 50 days or six months. Imagine if you want to buy a home for you and your family, you go to the bank and say you want a mortgage and they say they’ll give you one for six months. You think to yourself, how in the world am I going to make a decision for my family if I only know I have borrowing for six months,” says Senator Durbin.
Aside from highways and bridges, the DRIVE Act will provide over $4 billion over a six-year span to Illinois Transit Authorities for buses and bus facilities which some people like Michelle Anderson, who relies on the bus to get to and from her doctors appointments, say they can’t live without.
“You know people do use the buses to get to work. So I really think they need to keep it,” says Rockford resident Michelle Anderson.
Since 2009, congress has passed 34 stop gap measures, but Durbin says the country cannot think short-term any more. Durbin says the bill could create more jobs and dramatically affect the lives of people who rely on public transportation.