Illinois PIRG Praises Blankenhorn Nomination, Early Rauner Action to Put the Brakes on the Illiana Boondoggle

Media Contacts
Abe Scarr

State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG

Illinois PIRG

Chicago – In his first days in office Governor Rauner took two actions which spell trouble for the controversial Illiana Expressway: the nomination of Illiana critic Randy Blankenhorn to serve as Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and an executive order suspending all new interstate infrastructure projects until they undergo a review.

 “We’re encouraged by the nomination of Randy Blankenhorn because of his demonstrated leadership at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and his well-informed skepticism of the Illiana Expressway,” said Abe Scarr, Director of the Illinois Public Interest Group (PIRG).  “We also applaud Governor Rauner for using his first executive order to halt work on the Illiana Expressway and subject it to a thorough review.”

Governor Rauner’s Transition Team Report recommended the Rauner administration “…undertake a rapid assessment to establish clear, transparent spending priorities as well as pause and review major infrastructure projects. Measurable criteria can be used to emphasize the funding of critically needed maintenance and strategic upgrades, with a smaller percentage allocated to expansion.”

 “The Illiana Expressway is a bad deal for taxpayers, which is why we included it in our national report documenting 11 egregious highway boondoggles,” continued Scarr. “If Governor Rauner wants to show taxpayers he is looking out for them, he should make killing the Illiana boondoggle a top priority.”

Illinois PIRG has released a series of reports over the past two years documenting that Americans, and Illinois residents, are driving less, while transportation planners continue to use outdated assumptions that driving will consistently rise for decades to come.  Such unrealistic traffic projections were used to justify the Illiana.

“Americans have been driving less, but state and federal governments are still spending billions of dollars on highway expansion projects based on outdated and obsolete forecasts, which U.S. PIRG drew attention to earlier this week,” said Kathleen Woodroof, National Field Director of U.S. PIRG’s 21st Century Transportation Campaign. “The time has come to shift our resources to invest in 21st century priorities, like fixing our roads and bridges and providing more Americans with a wider range of transportation choices.”

Along with coalition partners the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Sierra Club, and Openlands, Illinois PIRG plans to deliver thousands of petitions to Governor Rauner next week asking him to put the brakes on the Illiana.  The petition can be found here.

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