Stop the Illiana!

This petition made change with 465 supporters!

The Illiana Expressway is a proposed tollway connecting I-55 near Wilmington, IL and I-65 near Lowell, IN. The project is proposed as a way to speed freight traffic through the region and improve the business climate for the many logistics companies in the southern suburbs of Chicago. Projections for the Illiana indicate that it will never achieve what it's designed to do (lower congestion, speed freight traffic movement, pay for itself with tolls) and is undoubtedly a boondoggle. 

The souther suburbs of Chicago, often called Southland, are home to important logistics hubs. Since its early years, Chicago and the surrounding region has been a center of logistics and that has grown to include shipping, aviation, rail, and roads. The Illiana, is meant to add to that infrastructure and make the logistics industry in this part of the country stronger. More pressing problems face the state's infrastructure however, most of these directly affecting the regional economy. The Illiana, although promoted as a necessary project for regional growth actually is diverting limited and much needed resources from important new projects and backlogged repairs and maintenance projects throughout the entire state, not just in Chicagoland.  

There is no indication the Illiana will achieve what it is being designed to do. Despite being proposed as a public-private partnership, the tollroad will in all likelihood require huge sums of public financing to build. Even after it's built if tolls don't cover the costs of maintenance and operation the states of Illinois and Indiana must pay the difference to the private tollroad operator. Projections expect the two states to be on the hook for $1-3 billion dollars over the course of the next few years if the Illiana is built and even more after that to pay for revenue shortfalls. Logistics experts predict few freight trucks will use the road and overall traffic projects say the tollroad will only create a 1% decrease in regional traffic congestion.

This project is putting undue financial burdens on the state and unreasonably diverting money from more important and projects. These range from basic infrastructure maintenance and repairs to high profile projects like CREATE and the O'Hare Modernization Project. Ensuring the state has high-quality infrastructure and maintaining what already exists is more important at this point than building new roads. They don't necessarily fix anything and only create fiscally irresponsible burdens on the state and local communities affected by the tollroad. Even after former Gov. Pat Quinn injected $31 billion into infrastructure over six years with the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program the state still receives subpar grades on infrastructure and struggles to maintain its backlog of projects in need.

The Illiana Tollway lacks to the support of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which voted against including it in the Go To 2040 regional plan and stated that it was not conducive to the goals of the regional plan and regional development. The project is also opposed by Cook County Commissioner Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Openlands, the Sierra Club and was strongly critiqued by the US Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency; advocacy group No Illiana 4 Us has been a vocal grassroots movement in Will County working against the Illiana. The US Public Interested Research Group included it in its report of highway boondoggles. 

The project is economically, socially, and environmentally unsustainable. It threatens to cost Illinois and Indiana huge sums of money that would be better used on other projects with more positive returns; it threatens huge swaths of agricultural land, threatens to damage protected wildlife and natural areas, and encourage unsustainable modes of transportation and development. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner put the Illiana on hold shortly after taking office and should be commended for halting the project and giving advocates more time to show why this project is problematic for Illinois, Indiana, Chicagoland, and Will County. This petition is meant to encourage Gov. Rauner to stay the course and maintain a hold on further work until he definitely decides it is in the best interest of the public to no longer proceed.   

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