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Don’t miss this chance for a real partnership to rebuild our local infrastructure – Chicago Daily Herald

By Kevin Morrison and Raja KrishnamoorthiGuest columnists Posted7/23/2021 1:00 AM There’s an old joke about Chicago’s weather. Everyone talks about it, but no one ever does anything about it. The same could be said about our federal government’s approach to infrastructure — until now. Last week, Illinois was named the No. 1 state for best

By Kevin Morrison and Raja Krishnamoorthi
Guest columnists

Posted7/23/2021 1:00 AM

There’s an old joke about Chicago’s weather. Everyone talks about it, but no one ever does anything about it. The same could be said about our federal government’s approach to infrastructure — until now.

Last week, Illinois was named the No. 1 state for best infrastructure by CNBC. Unfortunately, state and local efforts to upgrade our infrastructure have not been matched by the federal government, which has left state and local governments to fend for themselves. For example, last year Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Rebuild Illinois Act to invest $45 billion over the next six years in roads, bridges, railroads, universities, early childhood centers and state facilities in Illinois. Yet, the U.S. Congress has not reauthorized the national surface transportation law since December 2015.

As a result, our infrastructure has gotten worse and more costly to repair. To put this into perspective, Illinois drivers pay $600 a year or more on average to fix the damage to their cars due to the state’s 2,374 bridges and more than 6,200 miles of highway in disrepair. We also pay in wasted time. Since 2011, local commute times have spiked regardless of how we get to work. Even Illinoisans who take public transportation spend nearly 70 percent more of their time commuting than they did a decade ago.

Meanwhile, the Cook County government is investing millions of dollars in local communities through Invest in Cook, a program to cover some of the costs of planning and feasibility studies, engineering, right-of-way acquisition and construction associated with local transportation improvements. These projects include a county partnership with Rolling Meadows to pay for preliminary engineering for the intersection of Algonquin and New Wilke Roads. Earlier this year, the county awarded Schaumburg $145,000 for pedestrian crossing improvements throughout the village. Such local projects enhance our communities and make the Northwest suburbs safer places to live.

Now, a bipartisan group of 21 senators have proposed an infrastructure plan that seeks to provide these types of projects and solutions across the nation and that has been embraced by President Joe Biden. It would provide federal government support to help repair our highways and modernize public transit while creating millions of good-paying jobs. The proposal includes $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects, $25 billion for airports and $1 billion for “reconnecting communities.”

The House has already succeeded in passing a large infrastructure package — the INVEST in America Act. Within this Act, there are numerous provisions to fund specific local transportation projects that will create jobs and strengthen community access. In our very own communities, it includes road reconstruction projects and environmentally sustainable program installations.

Importantly, the bipartisan federal infrastructure plan would put our nation on the road to a cleaner environment, with trailblazing investments in green energy and clean water. It would build a network of electric vehicle charging stations and put us on a path toward electrifying school and transit buses. It would also help municipalities get rid of dangerous lead service pipes and allow for the construction of more than 600,000 new water lines across Illinois.

This legislation would increase our economic competitiveness as well. Currently, one in four Cook County residents lack broadband, but the bipartisan framework allocates $65 billion for improving and expanding broadband infrastructure.

We may not be able to do anything about Chicago’s weather. But we can do something about our nation’s aging infrastructure. It’s time to turn talk into action and forge the federal partnership we need to move ahead, keep our place as the world’s leading economy and invest in our communities.

• U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, of is a Democrat from Schaumburg. Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison is a Democrat from Elk Grove Village.

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