In front of railroad tracks set to be improved by the new law, Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation authorizing $1.6 billion for transportation projects Tuesday.
"We're in the location of the middle of the United States," Quinn said. "We're the heart of the heartland, and that really helps us location-wise, but it really doesn't do enough unless we build our transportation to meet our location."
Quinn signed House Bills 3875, 4036, and 4568, which authorize funding for projects such as the widening of Illinois Route 13 and an overpass separating trains and other vehicles in Bellwood. The legislation also authorizes borrowing money for bus garage and expansion projects in suburban Chicago.
The law funds around $800 million in highway projects and the same amount in mass transit and rail improvements for the 2013 fiscal year.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted the jobs the funding is expected to provide.
"We finally have a bill," he said. "We can put our friends and neighbors to work building roads, building bridges, building transit systems, building the kind of transportation that Americans want."
The law is expected to create 18,400 jobs, according to state estimates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.