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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:43pm
Wed Jun 19, 2013

Report: 1 in 12 Illinois Bridges 'Structurally Deficient'

One in 12 bridges in Illinois is "structurally deficient," which is an increase from two years ago, according to a national report from Transportation for America released Wednesday.

Based on an analysis of the U.S. Department on Transportation's National Bridge Inventory data, the report found that nearly 9 percent of Illinois' bridges are structurally deficient, meaning they require significant repair, maintenance or replacement.

On a daily basis, there are more than 8 million trips taken across Illinois' deficient bridges, according to the report, "The Fix We’re In For 2013."

In general, bridges are designed to last 50 years before major fixes are needed. The average age of Illinois' bridges is 40. Nationally, the average age is 43.

In 10 years, 1 in 4 bridges in the country will be older than 65, which is the average age of structurally deficient bridges, according to the report.

"As more bridges reach the end of their life span, we face a growing liability in Illinois and nationally," said Brian Imus, Illinois PIRG's  state director. "Delays in maintenance increase safety risks and ultimately costs taxpayers. The safest approach we can take to Illinois’ infrastructure is to protect the investments we’ve made with needed upgrades."

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
7:11pm
Mon Jun 10, 2013

Congress Needs To 'Step Up' Funding For Rail Infrastructure Upgrades, Industry Panelists Say

Ongoing infrastructure upgrades to Illinois’ passenger and rail transportation systems face an uncertain future, as the public-private partnership CREATE program nears the 10-year mark and has less than half of the money needed for completion.

“CREATE has been moving forward, but there’s more work to do,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D, IL-3). “This is about safety, commerce and moving passengers more efficiently, but there is a need for more funding.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:03pm
Thu Apr 4, 2013

State Coalition Hosts Talk On Reversing The Chicago River

Illinois’ Healthy Water Solutions Coalition has a vision for Chicago’s future.

It includes revitalizing the Chicago River via restoring the natural divide between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins.

Physical separation of the basins and Lake Michigan is the only permanent solution to prevent invasive species from transferring through the Chicago waterways, members of the coalition said at it’s public “Changing Course: Revitalizing the Chicago River” talk Wednesday night. The meeting was set to get more people engaged with the issue.

“This is about a lot more than Asian carp,” said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission. “This is about more than just one fish that threatens Lake Michigan. It’s about a number of different invasive species ... but it’s also about more than fish, and the ecosystem, and the lake. It’s about restoring and utilizing a precious resource that in many ways the city has turned its back on.”

PI Original
by Ashlee Rezin
5:07pm
Tue Apr 2, 2013

Major Infrastructure Needs Along Mississippi & Illinois Rivers Prompt Bipartisan Legislation

Outdated and deteriorating locks and dams along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers have contributed to a backlog of projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), amounting to $60 billion in unfunded, but necessary, upgrades. Prompted by this statistic, Illinois congressional delegates sponsored bipartisan legislation earlier this month that would encourage private investment in improving the nation’s water infrastructure.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
8:35pm
Wed Feb 27, 2013

Unemployment Report: Legislative Focus Needs To Be On Job Creation, Not Austerity

Unemployment rates are not expected to improve for white, Latino and African American workers through 2013, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, prompting a recommendation for legislators that focus more on job creation.

“In the fourth quarter of 2012, nationwide unemployment rates were 6.3 percent for whites, 9.8 percent for Hispanics, and 14 percent for blacks. These elevated rates are projected to remain essentially unchanged at the end of 2013,” the report reads.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
5:49pm
Wed Feb 13, 2013

EPI Blasts ALEC's Economic Recommendations Saying They Are Bad For The Public Good

Researchers on a conference call today questioned the American Legislative Exchange Council's economic and fiscal policy agenda.

Hosted by the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank that often presents the liberal viewpoint on economic issues, the conference call exposed what some researchers called the “counterproductive policies” of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a state legislator organization that promotes free-market and conservative ideas.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, which is made up of more than 2,000 state legislators, came under fire last year for its promotion of the “Stand Your Ground” gun policy, but today’s conference call centered on state tax and budget policy prescriptions and privatization plans.

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