“We have more neighborhoods of concentrated poverty without good public transportation. Even if you get that job in an Amazon warehouse, that’s nowhere you live,” says John Austin, director of the Michigan Economic Center and principal investigator not resident at the Chicago Council on Global. Business. “Segregation separates people from the economy if they are not connected.”
Finance faucets are dripping
Of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that President Joe Biden signed into law in November, Illinois’ share is about $18 billion, or 1. 5%. This will go towards rebuilding infrastructure from this year until 2026. And more than $4 billion will cover investments in public transport. Among other expenses, the Illinois portion of federal dollars will be used for:
• Mitigate the risk of recurring damage from extreme weather events, such as floods and other natural disasters ($5.2 billion).
•Replace and support bridges ($1.3 billion).
•Improving road safety ($533 million).
•Financing projects that integrate natural infrastructure, such as flood protection ($257 million).
• Support freight highway projects statewide ($257 million).
•Support carbon reduction projects, such as cycling and pedestrian infrastructure ($226 million).
• Support alternative charging and refueling infrastructure ($149 million).
•Install protection devices at level crossings ($57 million).
Strong increase in infrastructure investment
States and localities across the country have seen increased allocations under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Illinois’ increase for 2022 was the seventh-largest in the nation.
2022 increase in authorized road fund allocations vs 2021
Note: Excludes territories other than Washington, DC
Source: Chicago Metropolitan Planning Agency
The federal money will help cover the backlog of projects Governor JB Pritzker has earmarked for Rebuild Illinois, his own infrastructure program that set aside $45 billion over six years in 2019. Infrastructure Spotlight and the opportunity to finally do something about it,” is very exciting and overwhelming,” says Laura Wilkison, deputy executive director of plan implementation and legislative affairs at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, or CMAP, which helps to facilitate financing planning for the city. “We’re at a time where we’re lucky to have funding, which hasn’t been our MO in the past.”
Federal infrastructure law does not specify projects, so allocating which dollars go to which programs is a complex and competitive process and requires working closely with federal partners, some of whom have not been supportive of cities that lean towards the Democrat. That has changed, says Dan Lurie, chief policy officer for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “We have for the first time in this administration a real partner in DC and in Congress,” he says.