President Joe Biden’s introduction of a $2 trillion plan to upgrade America’s infrastructure has some state and local politicians dusting off their wish lists.
Illinois and Chicago officials want funding for various projects, including a $3 billion remake of North Lake Shore Drive, a $2.3 billion extension of Chicago’s Red Line and 600,000 new water lines across the state. The Pritzker administration also says 8,000 miles of roadway requires repair.
“This is truly, in every way, a once-in-a-century capital investment to put our country on the right track,” said Rep. Marie Newman (D-LaGrange).
The White House is proposing to pay for the massive package by reversing the Trump-era tax cuts. Republicans call it a bad approach. Democrats say it will create jobs.
The CTA, facing a $13 billion backlog in capital needs, is asking for a significant boost.
“The reality is that the disrepair of our transportation systems goes beyond crumbling roads and bridges, access to jobs, services, health care and schools has been limited by poor planning and at times intentional discrimination for decades,” said Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-Chicago).
“Public transportation in the Chicago region has long seen inadequate investments in infrastructure,” Dorval R. Carter, Jr., President of Chicago Transit Authority, said.
As excitement among local politicians grows, business and civic groups are warning Washington to spend the money wisely.
Audrey Wennink, with The Metropolitan Planning Council, is pushing for regional consensus over pet projects of local politicians.
“I think it’s a case of making sure we stay focused on fixing the infrastructure we have,” Wennink said. “We have a huge maintenance backlog on our transit system, our roads and our bridges.”
The politics of the $2 trillion bill are complicated. Republicans are not yet on board. House Democrats plan to move a bill in May but acknowledge getting it through the Senate will be difficult.