By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) may halt most roadwork by July 1 if state lawmakers can’t pass a budget that allows the agency to pay highway contractors and other vendors.
Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has ordered the General Assembly to return to Springfield on June 21 to hammer out a budget before the month-end close of the fiscal year. The governor and Democratic-led legislature have wrangled over the budget for the past two years, and only agreed to a stop-gap measure for the current budget at the eleventh hour last June.
“While we are hopeful the situation is resolved before then, the department is notifying contractors that all construction work is to shut down on June 30,” IDOT said in a June 14 statement. “Contractors will be advised to secure work zones to ensure their safety during any potential shutdown. As always, the safety of the traveling public will be the top priority as the department works through this process.”
Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA) President & CEO Mike Sturino said the impacts of a shutdown are “dire.” He cited Transportation for Illinois Coalition estimates of more than $3 million daily in direct costs associated with such an abrupt halt.
“IRTBA member firms report that layoffs of thousands of Chicago area residents are imminent,” Sturino said. “Organized labor is reporting approximately 30,000 people will be out of work statewide if this shutdown happens.”
Illinois has $15 billion in unpaid bills, and the state’s credit rating is sinking to “junk” status, Reuters reports. The state has identified needed repairs on more than 2,700 bridges, costing an estimated $10 billion, according to ARTBA’s 2017 National Bridge Inventory.