PI Original Progress Illinois Thursday January 22nd, 2009, 3:43pm

House Stimulus Includes $1.8 Billion For IL Infrastructure

According to a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee report released today, the current version of their stimulus plan includes $1.8 billion for infrastructure investment in Illinois.  Here's the breakdown:

Highways and Bridges: $1,001,675,645
Transit ...

According to a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee report released today, the current version of their stimulus plan includes $1.8 billion for infrastructure investment in Illinois.  Here's the breakdown:

Highways and Bridges: $1,001,675,645
Transit Capital: $352,823,530
Fixed Guideway Modernization: $191,779,080
Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $262,531,962
TOTAL: $1,808,810,217

First things first, "fixed guideway" refers to "any transit service that uses exclusive or controlled rights-of-way or rails."  Therefore, that line-item represents more public transit spending, bringing the total amount to $544 million or about 54 percent of the amount slated for roads and bridges.

So how does our ratio stack up to other states?  Well, New York is actually going to get slightly more money for transit projects than they will for highways, which is rather amazing.  Otherwise, only the funding formulas for New Jersey and Massachusetts are more transit-friendly. (We're curious to hear what local public transportation advocates think about these numbers and will try to bring you some of their reactions soon.)

Meanwhile, there's more and more concern on Capitol Hill about the overall amount being directed at buses and trains. As we noted earlier this week, transit advocates were justifiably frustrated with the initial summary released by the House.  And today came word from Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) that the transit spending was reduced to make way for tax cuts.  This has some senators crying foul:

[A]t a Senate progressive media summit today, Senator Charles Schumer said that he was unhappy about the amount of stimulus money set aside for mass transit and rail. He indicated that several other Senators from highly urbanized states were also unhappy about this portion of the stimulus, and that when the legislation reached the Senate, they would be jointly pushing for an increase in money set aside for mass transit and rail. The current amount for mass transit and rail in the stimulus bill is only $10 billion.

Hopefully, Sens. Durbin and Burris are among those who will be pushing for more transit funding when the package makes its way to their chamber.

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