Illinois Governor JB Pritzker generally has a decent record when it comes to sustainable transportation. But as he talks about wanting to make our state a leader in the fight against climate change, he has a frustrating blind spot. when it comes to highway expansion. He has been a strong advocate for using much of the projected $17 billion Illinois will get from the new federal infrastructure bill to add lanes to highways and freeways, which would encourage more conduct and divert funds from the sustainable transportation project.
Fortunately, the Active Transportation Alliance and 50 other sustainable transportation, environmental and social justice organizations have teamed up to send the a letter to Governor and Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation, Omer Osman calling on state officials to move away from the car-centric status quo and allocate more resources to creating a safer, more efficient, fairer and more environmentally friendly transportation system.
The Active Transportation Alliance says that as federal funds are allocated, the ATA and other groups plan to monitor how IDOT allocates the money in a way that aligns with a recent memo from the U.S. Department of Transportation recommend that infrastructure funds be invested in a way that will help improve our society, rather than simply perpetuate dependence on the automobile.
“To achieve these goals and solve our transportation problems, we must stop expanding highways and embrace the full range of solutions that federal funding can support,” the letter says. “IDOT has the ability to spend federal funds on the state’s 63 separate transit systems, solutions that reduce air pollution and address the climate crisis, comprehensive street projects that provide safe alternatives to driving like walking and bicycling, ADA improvements for people with disabilities and reduced mobility, infrastructure to unite neighborhoods separated by highways, and better access to public transit for rural and tribal communities.
These potential solutions include (letter language):
● Reconnect communities and reflect the inclusion of disadvantaged and underrepresented groups in the planning, project selection and design process.
● Improve the condition, resilience and safety of roads and bridges in accordance with asset management plans (including investing in the preservation of these assets.)
● Promote and improve the safety of all road users, especially vulnerable road users.
● Make streets and other transportation facilities accessible to all users and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
● Address environmental impacts ranging from stormwater runoff to greenhouse gas emissions.
● Prioritize infrastructure that is less vulnerable and more resilient to climate change.
● Future-proof our transport infrastructure by integrating new and emerging technologies such as charging stations for electric vehicles, the production of renewable energy and the deployment of broadband in transport rights-of-way.
The letter notes that investing in public transit is particularly important. “We know that abundant transit unlocks freedom of movement and dramatically increases access to opportunity. When people can rely on the bus or train to get them where they need to go, they can easily access jobs, education, medical care, culture, goods and services, and life. daily
their communities. They benefit from greater economic mobility and lower household costs.
The memo also says public transit is crucial to reducing air pollution and tackling climate change. He points out that racist urbanism in the 20th century resulted in the passage of freeways through communities of color. “It has had the effect of perpetuating racial, income and health inequalities, limiting economic opportunity, accelerating the catastrophic climate
change and exacerbating chronic disease, adding to disparate health outcomes for these communities.
The letter tells Pritzker and Osman, “You have a historic opportunity to change the status quo of transportation planning to build good, zero-emission public transit systems and build infrastructure for safe walking and cycling that meet the needs of communities of all sizes around Illinois.” Hopefully the Governor and his IDOT chief will get the message.
Here is the list of signatories:
access to life
Active Transportation Alliance
Biking & Walking Plains
Oak Park Bike Ride
Neighborhood Tech Center
Champaign County Bikes
Chicago Area Tandem Society (CATS)
Chicago Heights Bike and Pedestrian Resource Center
Citizens’ Greener Evanston / Go Evanston
Climate Reality Project: Chicago Metro Chapter
Coalition for a Better Chinese-American Community (CBCAC)
Community organization and family issues
Consortium to Reduce Childhood Obesity of Chicago (CLOCC)
Chicago United for Equity (CUE)
The Racial Equity Movement Equity
Elgin Community Bikes
Elmhurst Bike Club
Center for Environmental Law and Policy
Evanston Transit Alliance
Fox Valley Bike and Ski Club
Friends of the Grand Marais
Friends of the East Fork DuPage River Trail
Go Green Glen Ellyn
Go Green Highland Park
Go Green in Illinois
Go Green Wilmette
Illinois Environmental Council
Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs
Small Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)
McHenry County Bike Advocates
Metropolitan Planning Council
Midwest Sustainability Group
The Nature Conservancy in Illinois
North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council (NLCCC)
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Parents Organized to Win, Educate, and Renew – Policy Action Council, Illinois
Quad Cities Bike Club
Respiratory Health Association
Ride in Illinois
Rikosys LLC, Transport Consulting, of Champaign, IL
Rogers Park Business Alliance
Shared use mobility center
Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter
Skokie Bike Network
Springfield Bike Club
Starved Rock Cycling Association
Central Illinois Trail Defenders
United Congregations of the Great East