When Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation funding the second phase of Illinois Jobs Now!, I was happy to join him to mark this milestone in state transportation programs.
Illinois Jobs Now! is a bold step forward for a state that understands the safety benefits and economic value of improving transportation infrastructure. And, as the title of the program indicates, Illinois knows that laying the foundation for tomorrow's economy means putting men and women back to work today.
With Governor Quinn; photo courtesy Rich Hein, Sun-Times
From rail to roads to transit, the bill Governor Quinn signed on Tuesday authorizes Illinois to invest $1.6 billion in good projects that create more than 18,000 jobs improving safety and speeding up the flow of goods and people across the Prairie State.
One project that will achieve both of those essential goals is CREATE, a first-of-its-kind partnership among the U.S. Department of Transportation, Illinois, Chicago, Metra commuter rail, Amtrak, and our nation’s freight railroads.
CREATE identified 78 critically needed rail and road improvements in Northeast Illinois. Work in this area will alleviate choke points and delays where freight and passenger rail lines intersect. It will also expand rail capacity in the region.
DOT is happy to be a partner in this effort. In the initial round of our TIGER program, we provided $100 million in funds to CREATE. And in our most recent TIGER grants, we awarded an additional $10.4 million to help replace switches, build connection tracks, and install a computerized Traffic Control System.
The bottom-line benefit from these investments is tremendous: greater safety, faster service, more efficient operations, and more capacity for future expansion. And Governor Quinn and the Illinois legislature understand this. That's why they've given their state the ability to pursue more projects like CREATE.
As I've said before, the U.S. DOT is proud to work with our partners across America. But these are challenging times, so we also know that we can't always be everywhere for every state.
The new, bipartisan transportation bill that Congress passed is a good step forward, and we look forward to put it to work quickly and effectively. But it's also encouraging to see a state take important transportation matters into its own hands.
I applaud the bold vision of Illinois Jobs Now! to do just that and put thousands of people back to work.