New to Illinois in 2019 is the administration of Governor J.B. Pritzker. Ride Illinois reached out to the new governor’s transition team with three priorities that could fit into a possible state “capital bill” or other administratively-adopted policies. Members are encouraged to contact his office either before or after the Monday, January 14, 2019 inauguration, to reinforce our requests as follows:
1.) IDOT Complete Streets Cost Share and Policies. The 2007 Complete Streets law addressed larger-scale (than resurfacing) road projects on state roads. IDOT’s implementation of the law requires local agencies to contribute 20% to the cost of adding sidewalks, trails, or bike lanes on or along reconstructed IDOT roads. This 20% match has prevented these safety features from being constructed in many IDOT projects and it does not comply with the law’s list of Complete Streets exceptions. To fix this, and match other Complete Streets states, the walking and biking safety elements should have the same cost share as the roadway part of the project. For many IDOT road projects, that means 100% state and 0% local. Also, IDOT’s state road project policies need to be brought up-to-date on where sidewalks are needed and which bikeways are appropriate.
2.) IDOT Resurfacing Projects. IDOT resurfacing projects can be opportunities to correct past omissions by filling sidewalk gaps, improving intersections, or reconfiguring the pavement to improve safety for people who walk or bicycle. However, current resurfacing project streamlining policies prevent the large majority of these projects from doing so. Additionally, at the beginning of the process, walk/bike safety needs are not factored into project selection or budgeting. Adjust IDOT’s project selection criteria, budgeting, and project processes to take these needs into account, for resurfacing projects in cities, towns, and other priority locations.
3.) Restore IDNR’s State and Local Trail Programs. Due to the severe reduction of IDNR’s budget, the capital portion of the Parks and Conservation – Bikeways special fund has been diverted to salaries. Funded since 1990, by a vehicle title transfer fee, its intended and longtime use was to build and maintain the state’s off-road trails network and to award the State Bikeway Grant Program’s 50/50 matching funds to local agencies building trails. The grant program has evaporated for several years, and the state’s trail system is in severe disrepair – unusable in many places. Meanwhile, neighboring states are investing more in trails. Repair the state trail system and provide annual capital funds for its maintenance and expansion, while restoring local trail grants.