Bump In the Downstate Road Reform

Chicago gets shafted

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Complaints by several Chicago-area lawmakers last week that Downstate Illinois gets more road funds than it deserves reached Springfield over the weekend.

“It has been a long-held myth that Chicago and northeast Illinois has been (a bastion of) all kinds of funding as it relates to the road fund,” state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero) told the State Journal-Register.

Sandoval and other city legislators want a change in the formula that determines road funding. A legislative research unit study found, for example, that Sandoval's district has half of all traffic in Illinois (!), but only 17 percent of the state's roads. Not surprisingly, Sandoval wants road money delivered by usage. (Huffington Post headline: "Road Funding Formula Shafts Chicago: Legislative Report.")

That would be a change from the "longtime formula" that results in"more than 55 percent of highway spending to Downstate and less than 45 percent to northeastern Illinois," the Tribune reports.

"The study noted, for comparison purposes, that more than 63 percent of Illinoisans live in the Chicago area, which accounts for more than half the vehicles and miles traveled in the state," the Trib says.

Chicago Democrat Donne Trotter told the State Journal-Register that the city should get more road moeny because "Chicago and the northeast suburbs are the economic engine (of the state), so it makes sense that the whole state benefits from us."

But as Progress Illinois notes, "Politics, not population or need, often determine how surface transportation projects get funded in Illinois."

And Illinois isn't ready to reform its road funds.

"You get south of I-80 and [Sandoval] isn’t going to get much Democrat support," State Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville) told the SJR. "I don’t know of any downstate Republican that will give him any support on this.”

Steve Rhodes is the editor and publisher of The Beachwood Reporter, which is located in Northern Illinois and receives no state road funds.

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