Corridor 67 meeting contains Motor Fuel Tax update, talk on future of highway

By Gary Scott on August 29, 2015 at 7:04am

County governments relying on revenue generated from gas taxes may soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

As part of the ongoing budget impasse in the capital, Motor Fuel Tax funding started being withheld earlier this month. But officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation announced yesterday in Jacksonville that there’s action to fix that.

That’s IDOT Deputy Secretary Christine Reed at the annual Corridor 67 meeting, being held locally for the first time since 2013.

As was the case when IDOT held a listening session in Jacksonville in May, there were calls from those in attendance to raise the gas tax to fund improvements.

One person expressed frustration that a two-cent increase can’t get support, but that people “barely noticed” the recent huge spike in gas prices that has since receded.

As far as Route 67 itself is concerned, State Senator Sam McCann said he’s prepared to take tough votes to make it a four-lane highway from one end to the other.

Most of the U.S. route is still two-lane, but construction on the section that stretches from Jacksonville to west of Chapin wrapped up last year. North of that up to Beardstown, officials noted there’s no funds for construction or land acquisition.

Jeff Myers of IDOT’s Region 6 added the second phase of engineering is underway for the portion of 67 from Jerseyville to the Greene/Scott County line, but there’s no funding for that project, either.

State Representative Daniel Beiser, who is a subcommittee chairman for transportation issues, had good things to say about the future funding of the highway.

“I’m here to state publicly that as long as I’m fortunate enough to be in the House of Representatives and Chairman of the Transportation Committee, Corridor 67 will be one of my top priorities in the whole capital program for the state of Illinois,” says Beiser.

State Senator John Sullivan insisted the state legislature needs to pass a highway maintenance bill.

“It’s going to take a lot of work and tough votes. We know how important the infrastructure is, what the needs are, the jobs it creates and how it creates economic development for our communities. It will happen, we just have other work we have to do first,” says Sullivan.

Congressman Rodney Davis and Senator Dick Durbin both stressed the need for a long-term federal transportation bill.

And State Senator Darin LaHood, who is running for Congress, said he wants to have a seat on the federal Transportation Committee if he’s elected to the 18th District next month.

Finally, IDOT’s Jeff Myers provided an update on Route 104 going through Meredosia and the new bridge being built.

Myers told those in attendance yesterday that the soggy weather and subsequent Illinois River flooding this summer has delayed the bridge project. It’s expected to be completed sometime in 2018.

Myers talked about IDOT’s plan to re-align Route 104 with the new bridge being constructed.

You can hear the full meeting by clicking here.