Illinois Transportation Remains Open for Business and Improvements
By Omer Osman, IDOT Secretary
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is in the midst of the most challenging, most exciting time in its history. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country this spring, IDOT has kept its focus on keeping the state’s infrastructure in good, safe condition.
Under the leadership of Gov. JB Pritzker, we have not wavered in that responsibility. We have been open for business at all times, with special focus on maintaining a reliable transportation system while putting in place safety precautions for employees, contractors and the public.
Our roads and bridges have remained open and will stay open. Maintenance and operations staff have stayed on duty throughout the state. Projects have continued uninterrupted. We have streamlined permitting requirements, raised weight limits and eliminated certain fees to support the movement of essential goods. Our rest areas have been open and undergo frequent cleanings, continuing to provide a vital resource for the trucking industry.
I have never been prouder of the way our team has stepped up. During this unprecedented time, we continue doing great things that will impact Illinois for generations to come.
In July, IDOT released its new multiyear plan for roads and bridges, an ambitious blueprint fueled by Gov. Pritzker’s historic, bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital program. We are going to be busy, looking to improve more than 3,300 miles of road and 8 million square feet of bridges. More importantly, we are creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs for hardworking Illinoisans across our state, including those in agriculture.
Investing $33.2 billion over six years into our robust, but aging, transportation system, Rebuild Illinois is the game changer our state desperately needed. It is not only the largest capital program in state history but the first one to touch all modes of transportation: roads and bridges, transit, ports, freight and passenger rail, aviation and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.
Commodities don’t just leave the farm and show up at the elevator. They need a well-connected, well-functioning system to get to domestic and international markets. That’s why I’m especially proud Rebuild Illinois begins to address perhaps our most underappreciated transportation resource: our ports. With $150 million, the capital program will help improve these assets.
Efficient freight movement – a crucial element to any farm – remains an IDOT priority. We created the state’s first freight plan and Illinois State Freight Advisory Council to hear from stakeholders. Staff have been added for freight planning work. Significant investments have been made in technology to make the permit process smoother and more accessible. We continue to look at innovative ways to support freight movement within and through the state.
Illinois is the transportation hub of the nation. With that distinction comes a huge responsibility that IDOT is prepared to meet while providing the essential services you need every day.
Omer Osman was appointed Illinois Transportation Secretary by Gov. JB Pritzker in 2019. His role as secretary reflects three decades of experience at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) in engineering and management. His vast experience in transportation includes management and advancement of complex projects and assessment of current resources to inform funding and programmatic needs to create a multimodal system for the 21st century.