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“The way we are going to build our economy and create jobs is by investing in things like our local infrastructure.” State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria)

SPRINGFIELD – Dozens of road projects that run out of funding on July 1 would be funded by a budget already passed by the Illinois Senate, according to one state senator.

Last week, the Illinois Department of Transportation warned contractors that without a budget in place, they would no longer be paid. IDOT estimates that the work stoppage would put more than 25,000 people out of work statewide.

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) says that a plan passed by the Senate would fund IDOT’s capital budget, preventing the almost 700 projects valued at $2.3 billion from shutting down.

“I do not see how shutting down key infrastructure upgrades makes Illinois more business-friendly,” Koehler said. “While the governor has crisscrossed the state trying to focus attention away from his failed tenure, the Illinois Senate actually passed a balanced budget that provides stability.”

In the Peoria area, road work on Illinois 116 east of Hanna City and on the Shade-Lohman Bridge (Interstate 474) would be among those shut down, delaying the completion of the projects and adding to the costs.

Just outside Lake Camelot, work replacing the unsafe Lancaster Bridge over Lamarsh Creek would cease. The bridge, which has almost 4,000 cars cross it every day, has been closed since May 2016 after Peoria County engineers declared it was unsafe.

That project is 80 percent funded by IDOT. According to the Peoria County Highway Department, contractors would not be paid for work after June 30 because of the budget impasse.

Without the bridge completed, the 600-house Lake Camelot community must take a detour that adds 20 minutes and more than 12 miles to any trips they make to nearby Bartonville.

It is estimated that more than 1,200 workers would be out of a job if the active projects were closed, hurting the local economy.

“These projects put money into the pockets of hard-working central Illinois residents,” Koehler said. “The governor has effectively said he cares more about his political agenda than he does about the livelihoods of workers.”

Under the Senate’s budget, funding would also be allocated for projects that IDOT has requested funding for the next fiscal year. Those projects are valued at $38.65 million in the Peoria area alone.

“The way we are going to build our economy and create jobs is by investing in things like our local infrastructure,” Koehler said. “These projects will bring much needed repairs but also stimulate the local economy.”

This comes as the General Assembly returns to Springfield tomorrow for a special session called by the governor. Rauner had counted on the Senate passing a bipartisan package of reforms along with a budget to fill the nearly $5 billion deficit he proposed.

When the package of reforms appeared to be nearly complete, the governor intervened and forced Republican senators to vote against the legislation they negotiated.

“The Senate’s budget spends the exact same amount of money as the governor’s budget,” Koehler said. “Unfortunately, the governor decided that if he can’t get everything he wants, no one can.”