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IDOT

COVID-19 isolation orders changed how state agencies ensure the safety of the roads, and who travels on them.  

On a state level, traffic is down throughout the board, but that doesn’t mean state agencies aren’t active. Paul Wappel is a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation. He said workers are still engaged in maintenance work.

“Transportation is deemed an essential service. We are maintaining the roads, and the bridges, making sure they’re still in good shape.”

Chase Cavanaugh

With more winter storms expected across Illinois, local and state authorities are working to clear the roads and respond to traffic accidents. 

Heavy snowfall can lead to labor like shoveling on driveways and sidewalks. For roads, local government steps in.  The City of Rockford has a fleet of more than 20 trucks for snow and ice removal. Staff are unionized, so they bid on routes. Public Works Director Kyle Saunders explained.

IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation wants feedback from drivers.

I-DOT is conducting its annual Illinois Traveler Opinion Survey through December 31st.  Spokesman Guy Tridgell said it’s meant to broadly determine what the public thinks about the state’s transportation system.

"The topics ranging from commuting habits, driving behaviors, feedback on our website, if people do like passenger rail use and want to see it expanded, transit usage," he said.  "So there’s a whole host of topics and questions that are asked that I think just apply to the average person."

Chase Cavanaugh

U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos took part in a ribbon cutting Wednesday for a newly renovated city bus depot in Rockford.

The Rockford Mass Transit District began renovation in February of last year. The renovation nearly doubles the depot’s size and includes charging stations and improved access for those with disabilities. Bustos says she was able to secure $3.3 million in funding for the project from the Federal Transit Administration. The other $5 million came from IDOT.  Rep. Bustos credits state and federal cooperation for the renovation’s success.

"Snow Plow" by Flickr User June Marie / (CC x 2.0)

Snow removal crews are active across Illinois in the wake of Monday's winter storm.

The main types of vehicles you'll probably see are snowplows and salt trucks. IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell says drivers should give these vehicles a wide berth, especially snowplows.

"They're higher up, their sight lines are not as good," he said. "You might see the plow but they might not see you. So we're just asking folks if they are out on the roads, and they do get in traffic with one of our plows, that they give them plenty of extra distance, more so than you would any other car."

Pixabay

The Illinois Department of Transportation says it’s stepping up traffic enforcement over the holiday break.  Spokeswoman Jessie Decker says this will take the form of various roadside safety checks.

“About 200 local law enforcement agencies are receiving additional funding for that over the Nov. 16-26 range-- so from Thanksgiving on,” she said.

She also says there are several measures people can take to ensure they have safer journeys on the state’s roadways. 

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

Experts say billions in a multi-year plan won't go far enough to address infrastructure repairs and upkeep.

With help from the federal government, Illinois will put more than $2 billion toward infrastructure projects this year across the state's network of roads and bridges. But that network is underfunded by billions more, and what the state has pledged is a far cry from fixing that.

Kristin McHugh/Peoria Public Radio

Illinois will spend more than $11 billion on maintaining and replacing roads and bridges in the next six years.

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the program Tuesday in Peoria, where $205 million – the largest single chunk of the plan -- will be used to replace the McClugage Bridge.

Illinois Rules of the Road 2014

As Illinois transitions from the winter season to construction season, repair projects on two popular thoroughfares in northern Illinois are getting underway.

People who regularly travel Illinois 2 in Ogle County may want to look for an alternative over the next several months, starting Monday. 

"Snow Plow" by Flickr User June Marie / (CC x 2.0)

The snowfall Christmas Eve gave notice that winter is here in Illinois, and with it hazardous conditions. A recent redesign of the Illinois Department of Transportation website, GettingAroundIllinois.com, aims to make winter road condition information more convenient and accessible for drivers.

The update includes more detailed reports on snow coverage that are recorded by plow drivers out in the field. The information is continually fed onto the website through a cloud-based system.

IDOT Preparing For Heavy Eclipse Traffic

Aug 7, 2017
eclipse.siu.edu

The best viewing spots for the solar eclipse later this month will be in southern Illinois, and IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell said the agency is preparing for crowds of up to 200,000 people traveling roads like US 51, Illinois 13, and Interstate 57. 

"We've already made plans to lift any lane closures on major projects in that area to help the flow of traffic," he said. "We're prepared to have temporary portable message boards brought in, just in case, to help with messaging and traffic flow." 

By William Warby (https://flic.kr/p/dtKZF2) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Illinois Department of Transportation is revising its mowing routes along state highways this spring and summer to only 15 feet beyond the edge of the roadway. 

The move is meant to encourage the growth of critical plant species like milkweed, a primary source of food for pollinators including monarch butterflies. 

The monarch butterfly is the Illinois state insect. Its population has declined by 80% in the past 10 years.  

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

A new report by a court-appointed watchdog charged with looking into patronage hiring at the Illinois transportation department details how friends and relatives of top Democrats were hired under former Gov. Pat Quinn, even as many had little or no experience.

  

The Chicago Tribune reports the findings released Monday are the result of an inquiry that began in 2014 after a federal judge assigned a lawyer to dig into hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

"Seatbelt plug" by Flickr User Benjamin Goodger / (CC X 2.0)

The Illinois Department of Transportation says state traffic deaths have exceeded 1,000 this year, breaking records since 2008.

Officials say dozens have died during the New Year’s holiday period since 2011, including drivers who tested positive for alcohol. 

As the New Year’s holiday approaches, the agency says police are increasing efforts to keep road deaths down. Scott Kristiansen, with IDOT, says a change in driver’s habits may contribute to the numbers.  

IDOT

A federal judge has ruled that a court-appointed monitor investigating patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation can also review hiring at other state agencies.

The State Journal-Register reports Judge Sidney Schenkier ruled in favor of the IDOT case's plaintiffs, who wanted the authority of the special master expanded to include positions labeled as exempt at all state agencies, boards and commissions.

Anti-patronage activist Michael Shakman says the request stemmed from discoveries made by the special master as she investigated hiring at IDOT.

IDOT

There no longer is any such position as an Illinois Department of Transportation "staff assistant," Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Monday.

An inspector general's report in 2014 found that previous administrations hired people into that role, which allowed them to skirt state hiring rules.

Then the workers often were moved into other jobs that would have been subject to merit testing. It was a way get people with clout on the state payroll.

Rauner says the inspector general is still looking for patronage hires in other departments.

IDOT

Gov. Bruce Rauner has laid off 29 Illinois Department of Transportation employees who were among those improperly hired based on political connections.

The Republican said Thursday he issued notices to the so-called ``staff assistants'' hired by skirting personnel rules under two previous Democratic governors. They were told their last day is Sept. 15.  

Hundreds of people were hired into the position starting in 2003. The state's inspector general found in 2014 that the politically connected hires should have been put into their positions based on merit.  

The Illinois Department of Transportation has begun informing contractors that all IDOT projects will begin shutting down starting June 30 if no state budget agreement is reached.

A statement attributed to IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says the move is "due to the majority party in the legislature’s failure to pass a balanced budget."

Illinois Road Projects On Hold For State Budget

Jun 9, 2016
"End Construction" by Flickr User Chris Lasher / (CC X 2.0)

The Illinois Department of Transportation plans to spend about 2 billion dollars on road projects for the next fiscal year that starts July 1 -- if there's a budget.

The lack of a deal could kill the construction season. 

That's what business leaders, contractors, laborers and other members of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition say.

Co-chair Todd Maisch, who's also CEO of the state Chamber of Commerce, says no spending on roads this summer would cause construction firms to close, or lay off workers.

Amanda Vinicky / Illinois Public Radio

The llinois Department of Transportation may be wrapping up its busy construction season, but the upcoming winter will mean more repairs for road crews to work on next summer. But that depends on getting a state budget in place first.

A lot of money for road construction comes from a separate fund than what's being debated in Springfield right now in the months-long budget stalemate. But some money comes from the same pot of cash that many human services and other state programs are vying for.

IDOT Announces $8.4 Billion Improvement Program

May 15, 2015
IDOT

Illinois Department of Transportation officials announced an $8.4 billion, six-year program to improve roads and bridges.

But IDOT warned it won't be enough to keep the overall condition of the state's infrastructure from deteriorating.

Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says finding long-term, sustainable funding is urgent. The vast majority of the funding for the new multi-year plan comes from federal aid.

Rachel Otwell

Gov. Bruce Rauner made an appearance yesterday at an Illinois Department of Transportation hearing on infrastructure needs.

IDOT is traveling across the state to build support for a new construction program. Rauner used his own travel experiences as an example. As is often good practice when giving a speech, the governor started his remarks with a joke.

IDOT Holds Meetings For New Transit Systems

Apr 27, 2015
IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation is considering plans for new transit systems including road, bridge and airport improvements. IDOT is holding local meetings to hear from members of the public.

The Illinois Department of Transportation, along with the Illinois Capital Development Board, will hold a series of listening sessions over the next month to discuss the state’s infrastructure needs. 

Community members are invited to Wednesday morning at Ottawa City Hall.  Another meeting takes place that evening at KSB Hospital in Dixon. 

IDOT

Illinois Department of Transportation says construction work resumes today to replace the Bypass U.S. 20 bridge over the Rock River on Rockford’s south side. 

The ramps are scheduled to be closed today as a result. The department says to use "extreme caution" while driving through work zones.

Traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction during the construction after today. The $21 million project is scheduled to be completed by the end of November.

Flickr user Brian Timmermeister / "My Bike" (CC BY 2.0)

An Illinois lawmaker wants motorcycle safety to be an official part of driver's education classes. 

The proposal by Republican Representative Tom Bennett would require all behind-the-wheel instruction to include lessons on motorcycle awareness and safety.

Bennett says the concern was raised by some in his central Illinois district.

The Illinois Department of Transportation reports motorcycle fatalities made up 15 percent of all vehicle fatalities in 2013.

Bennett says he purposely kept the proposal’s language general to give schools flexibility.

Report: IDOT Improperly Hired 250 Workers

Aug 22, 2014
OEIG

A new report says that the Illinois Department of Transportation improperly hired hundreds of workers over the last 10 years.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Drivers will be able to legally go five miles an hour faster on most Illinois highways, beginning in January.  Governor Pat Quinn has signed a new law increasing the speed limit to 70 miles an hour. 

State Bike Plan Taking Shape

Jul 19, 2013

The state of Illinois wants to become a more welcoming place for cyclists. But will the effort be enough to win over bike riders?

IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics  has recognized several northern Illinois airports for their accomplishments throughout the year, including, according to IDOT, "an outstanding partnership with the state of Illinois and their commitment to customer satisfaction."

Area winners of the "2013 Airport of the Year" include:

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Rochelle-based Nippon Sharyo has been named the intended recipient of a $352 million contract to build 130 bi-level passenger railcars to accommodate high-speed rail expansion in Illinois and two other Midwest states as well as California.