ARTBA’s Dr. Alison Premo Black, left, and Steve Hall, of the American Council of Engineering Companies.

By Eileen Houlihan, senior writer/editor, ARTBA

ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black March 7 testified at the Illinois state capital about the positive economic impacts of transportation infrastructure investment.

“There are two primary economic impacts that occur when state or local governments make highway, bridge and transit capital investments,” Black told the Illinois General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee in Springfield. “The first is the immediate increase in jobs and economic output from the construction activity, while the second is the benefit to the users of the system over the long run.”

In fact, every $1 of investment creates $2.61 in benefits, she said. Read her full testimony.

Black was joined by Steve Hall, a senior vice president with the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), in support of ongoing efforts by ARTBA’s chapter, the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA), to stimulate increased funding at all levels for the transportation design and construction industry in the state.

Black’s testimony noted that Illinois last raised its motor fuel tax in 1990 – nearly 30 years ago – and since that time the average cost of highway and bridge construction projects has doubled, meaning a project that would have cost $100 million in 1990 would require over $200 million today. The price for key materials such as steel and asphalt have more than tripled in that period. Black also cited ARTBA research that shows voting for a gas tax increase had no significant impact on the re-election of state legislators.

The Illinois Department of Transportation also testified on its funding needs for the next major capital bill, which lawmakers are hoping to forge this legislative session.