Government

Audit: Illinois roads worsen despite extra funding

SPRINGFIELD – More than one in seven Illinois roads need to be repaired, four years after the state approved tax increases to pay for a $31 billion road construction program, according to a state audit of the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reported 15 percent of Illinois roads needed to be repaired in 2012. That's up from 10.8 percent in 2010.

IDOT spokeswoman Paris Ervin said more highways need to be repaired because the department has been focusing on fixing bridges. The agency's repaired more than 1,100 bridges since mid-2009.

"Governor Quinn has made investing in bridges a key priority for Illinois," Ervin said in an emailed statement.

The data was included in a report released this week by Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland.

Last week, The Associated Press reported that a transit advocacy group, the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, is estimating that without "significant investment" by 2018, one in every three miles of roads and 10 percent of all bridges will be in "unacceptable" condition.

The coalition — which is advocating replacing the 19-cents-a-gallon motor fuel tax with a 9.5 percent levy, meaning more revenue with rising gas prices — said the Illinois Jobs Now program slowed the deterioration, but with its end this year, there will be no revenue for future needs. Just to maintain current roads during the next five years would cost $11.6 billion, the coalition said.

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