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Transportation

  • Sen. Napoleon HarrisSPRINGFIELD – To push for greater fairness and diversity in contract work, Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) proposed new legislation setting goals for larger municipalities to include minority-owned businesses.

    “We need to ensure that minority-owned businesses are not being passed over as these municipalities continue to hand out millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and a good place to start is setting contracting goals,” Harris said.

    The legislation would set goals for cities which receive more than $1 million in state motor fuel taxes to hire more minority-owned and -operated businesses when awarding contracts. The measure is an effort to include more minority, veteran and woman-owned businesses in local government contracting.

  • High-speed trainSPRINGFIELD – The Senate Transportation Committee passed a measure Tuesday sponsored by State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago) to create a commission that would explore opportunities to create a statewide high-speed rail network.

    Senate Bill 1988 would create an 18 member High Speed Railway Commission comprised of representatives from state government and industry organizations that would create a plan to create a high-speed rail network connecting St. Louis with Chicago. The proposed route for the railway would pass through several Illinois cities, including Champaign, Decatur and Springfield.

    “High speed rail could very well be a big part of the future of transportation in Illinois,” Sandoval said. “As Chair of the Transportation Committee, I want to ensure that we study all available options to move our transportation infrastructure forward.”

    The measure passed committee as the Illinois Senate considers introducing a comprehensive plan to improve Illinois’ infrastructure. At a hearing on capital infrastructure needs on Monday, legislators heard from a representative from the Midwest High Speed Rail Association about the economic benefits and increased quality of life high speed rail could provide to Illinois residents.

    “High-speed rail would make travel throughout the state of Illinois far easier and would improve our economy by fostering tourism and commerce,” Sandoval said. “I look forward to hearing the commission’s findings and plotting the best path forward to introducing more high speed rail projects in Illinois.”

    The bill passed the Transportation Committee unanimously. It will now go before the entire Senate.

  • Senator Sandoval

    DECATUR – The Subcommittees on Capital for the Senate Transportations and Appropriations II Committees held their third joint hearing in Decatur Monday, hearing from local groups about capital infrastructure needs.

    Representatives from local government, health care professionals, transportation experts and other interested parties testified before the subcommittees about existing capital and needs that should be addressed in a potential bill to release funding for infrastructure improvements around the state.

  • Sen. Laura MurphyDES PLAINES – State Senator Laura Murphy is urging area bus riders to attend a public hearing about cancellation of Saturday Pace bus service on a route that serves Des Plaines and Park Ridge.

    The 209 Busse Highway route provides service to the Harlem Avenue station of the CTA Blue Line. Pace is considering cancelling the service on Saturdays only because of budgetary restrictions.

    “Many of the residents of my district rely on this route on Saturdays, especially disabled residents who might not have any other means of transportation” said Murphy (D-Des Plaines). “If Pace is considering canceling it, then those who will be affected by the cancellation deserve to have their voices heard.”

  • Kennedy expressway

    Assistant Majority Leader Antonio “Tony” Munoz (D-Chicago) reminds drivers to be cautious when driving on expressways and move over when approaching a vehicle stranded on the side of the road.

    In 2000, Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver on the Dan Ryan Expressway. As a way to commemorate his life and protect emergency personnel from accidents or injury, Scott’s Law was passed to enforce penalties on drivers who cause accidents, injuries, or don’t yield to emergency vehicles.

    Recently, that law was expanded to cover all stranded motor vehicles as far too many accidents have occurred involving vehicles stranded on the expressway.

  • Sen. Donne Trotter

    CHICAGO – Sen. Donne Trotter is among those who are demanding the governor release state money for completion of a college training center that is expected to prepare students for thousands of transportation-related jobs in the Chicago region.

    Construction on the $45 million Olive-Harvey Transportation Distribution and Logistics Center was halted in 2015 because of the state budget stalemate. Lawmakers included $15 million for the center in the state budget they approved in July. Weeks later, Gov. Bruce Rauner has not released that money.

    “This hold on the TDL Center is hurting the prospect of job growth in an area that desperately needs it,” said Sen. Trotter, a Chicago Democrat and vice chairman of a key Senate budget committee. “It’s time for Gov. Rauner to do what’s right to help train the people of Chicago.”

  • Homeless youthSPRINGFIELD – School districts will now be allowed to help students who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless under a plan passed the Illinois Senate.

    Under House Bill 261, schools will have the option to use their own transportation funds to provide housing assistance to students in need if they determine it will be more cost-efficient.

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is the legislation’s sponsor in the Senate.

    “This legislation allows schools to take steps to use existing funds to help these students add some stability to their lives,” Bennett said. “A student whose family is going through tough circumstances should be able to stay in their school, which will provide stability.”

  • Distracted Driver MonthIn the time it takes to look at a text message, a car traveling at 55 miles per hour will cover the length of a football field. Because a lot can happen in that time, State Senator John G. Mulroe sponsored legislation in 2013 to curb distracted driving by prohibiting the use of hand-held cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. Distracted driving includes any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from driving, including texting, operating navigation systems and eating.

  • Emissions testingSPRINGFIELD – Chicago residents may no longer be forced to drive to the suburbs for their vehicle emissions testing based on new legislation sponsored by State Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago). After emissions test sites closed in the Chicagoland area in November, Mulroe introduced legislation to require the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to locate vehicle emissions inspections stations within a five-mile radius of those subject to testing.

    “By closing emissions testing facilities in Chicago, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has created an undue burden on Chicago residents to meet the emission testing requirement” Mulroe said. “Getting a vehicle’s emissions tested can already be a time-consuming task in and of itself. We should not add to that by forcing Chicagoans to driver further to fulfill this obligation.”

  • AmtrakSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation and Amtrak announced late last week that they have reached an agreement to maintain service on state-supported routes at a savings to taxpayers and without having to raise fares on the downstate routes.

    When the governor announced his initial plans to slash support for these routes, State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) questioned whether these cuts were wise in the long term.

    “The governor's proposal last spring to cut state support of Amtrak's intercity Illinois routes by 40 percent was troubling. In response, we held a Higher Education Committee hearing at which mayors, business leaders and university officials explained that frequent Amtrak service attracts investment, retains students, and reduces the need for on-campus parking,” said McGuire, chairman of the Senate’s higher education panel.

    College students make up a significant portion of the ridership on these routes, including the Lincoln Service, which runs four times a day between Chicago and St. Louis and passes through Joliet.

    “I'm pleased IDOT listened,” McGuire said. “This is good news for everyday Illinoisans and for Joliet's new multi-modal transportation center, too.”

  • manar hi speed railSPRINGFIELD – A proposal creating a commission that will oversee Springfield’s 10th Street Rail Corridor was signed into law Wednesday.

    State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Representative Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) sponsored the commission that aims to increase transparency and ensure accountability in minority hiring.

    Manar and Scherer credited citizen participation, specifically the Faith Coalition for the Common Good, for this commission becoming a reality.

  • csxtBRIDGEVIEW – The office of Senator Steven Landek (D-Bridgeview) reports that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently began engineering and environmental studies on the CSXT Railroad underpass on Archer Ave at 63rd St.

    IDOT says the purpose of these studies is to determine the priority of what improvements can be done within the scope of the project’s budget. The main emphasis of the project is to repair the super-structure on the deck, which carries trains over the roadway.

    Other issues being looked at include the slope of the underpass and repaving of the roadway. The drainage system, which has caused flooding issues for decades, will also be evaluated as part of the studies.

    “This is the first step in the process, but it is one that is needed,” Landek said.