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Not as bad as it once looked

Thursday, Jul 9, 2015

* I’m sure this will come as a relief to the employees, but all this for a million bucks?

The proposed closure of a Southern Illinois prison work camp will not result in any of the workers losing their jobs, a new report says.

In a letter outlining Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to shutter the 35-year-old Hardin County Work Camp, state prison officials say there are enough vacancies at the Shawnee and Vienna prisons to accommodate the 61 employees currently working at the camp. […]

In June, Rauner announced the closure of the 280-inmate work camp and the Illinois State Museum as part of a cost-cutting move after lawmakers sent him a spending plan that was more than $3 billion short of revenue. […]

According to the report, the closure will save an estimated $1 million annually. The state also can avoid having to spend as much as $9.8 million in construction upgrades, including a new kitchen, electrical work and water treatment improvements.

* Meanwhile

Gov. Bruce Rauner has quietly signed a measure to spend another $5.5 million on the proposed Illiana expressway, raising questions about whether he’s seeking to keep the project on financial life support.

Several weeks ago, Rauner shelved the controversial south suburban toll road with a flourish:

“In light of the state’s current fiscal crisis and a lack of sufficient capital resources, the Illiana will not move forward at this time,” his office said then in a statement. “It is the determination of the Illinois Department of Transportation that the project costs exceed currently available resources. The department will begin the process of suspending all existing project contracts and procurements.” Rauner also ordered the road removed from the state’s five-year road program.

But on June 30, Rauner signed a bill that includes$5,491,724 for the Illiana, even as he knocked out money for other projects, such as land acquisition for the proposed south suburban airport at Peotone. The bill said the money would “enable the Illiana Expressway to be developed, financed, constructed or operated.” […]

With talk persisting in Springfield that Rauner wants to keep the project alive as trade bait with south suburban officials, this subject is worth keeping a close eye on.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Progressive Math - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:36 pm:

    Maybe my math is off, but that sounds closer to 10 million

  2. - DuPage - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:36 pm:

    Rauner: Hey, if Indiana approves, then Illinois should too.

  3. - Old Shepherd - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:37 pm:

    It’s not about saving money. It’s about making Gary Forby and Brandon Phelps look bad.

  4. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:40 pm:

    ==The state also can avoid having to spend as much as $9.8 million in construction upgrades, including a new kitchen, electrical work and water treatment improvements.==

    10 million here, 10 million there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money

  5. - Apocalypse Now - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:49 pm:

    As former Senator Everett Dirkson, said, “billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you talking real money.” There are more of these type of cost savings throughout the state. They all add up to waste in government.

  6. - Just Saying .... - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:49 pm:

    You just cannot walk away from all the millions ($75+m?) already spent for this Illiana Expressway project. This area is the center of Intermodal activity in all of North America, and truck and rail access and additional capacity for this region cannot be ignored. For the good of this region and even for the nation, this project must remain alive. Unfortunately, a public-private partnership is no longer financially feasible. But, perhaps IDOT should consider traditional GO bonding for this crucial project so that future generations can help pay for it since they clearly will reap the economic benefits.

  7. - Southern Illinois Hoopdee - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 12:59 pm:

    I would have no issues with further roads being built with tolls, but that’s probably not going to happen the way this state is set up.

  8. - D.P.Gumby - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 1:00 pm:

    Maybe they can put it in the Museum /snark

  9. - Anon221 - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 1:03 pm:

    Is this his planned invasion route into Indiana? /s

  10. - The Colossus of Roads - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 1:13 pm:

    Not sure where they live and it is always good to still have a job, but Vienna is about 50 miles from Cave in Rock, so decisions will need to be made by the 61.

  11. - Ethan Hawk - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 1:18 pm:

    This Illiana project reminds me of the Ricketts insisting Chicago taxpayers need to pick up the tab to improve Wrigley Field. Only in this case it is the owners of the intermodal property trying to cajole the Illinois politicians (and Rauner) into putting the enormous cost of this unnecessary roadway onto the backs of the already overwhelmed Illinois taxpayers. Just what is needed in these financially-trying times for taxpayers, another Bridge To Nowhere for Illinois taxpayers. $5 million here, another $5 million there, it is “only peanuts” when you know that somebody else (the Illinois taxpayers) that is going to have to pick up the bar tab.

  12. - Cassandra - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 1:24 pm:

    I wonder if work camps make any sense anyway. Why not put the work camp residents in real jobs and let them live in real communities, on monitoring if necessary. A real jobs, vs. a work camp job, looks a lot better on a resume, I’m sure. The whole concept seems so retro, although I suppose the local community gets a big benefit.

  13. - Because I Said So.... - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 1:44 pm:

    @Ethan Hawk, you obviously don’t drive I-80 in rush hour.

  14. - sal-says - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 2:02 pm:

    == According to the report, the closure will save an estimated $1 million annually. ==

    Ahhh..REPORTED to save….

  15. - Chicago 20 - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 2:04 pm:

    The Elgin O’Hare Tollway cost $3.4 billion for 10 miles of road.

    The proposed Illiana will cost $1.3 billion for 47 miles of road.

    All of these vehicles need to get around the bottom of the lake.

    I-80 is overloaded with trucks right now.

    The only issue I have is it should connect to I-355.

  16. - Linus - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 2:08 pm:

    My attorney is filing suit against the Governor, seeking to recover my expenses for treatment of whiplash arising from watching his myriad, 180-degree flipflops (today’s entry: Illiana).

  17. - Huh? - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 2:30 pm:

    Linus wins. I about spit all over my computer keyboard.

  18. - State worker - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 2:43 pm:

    I wonder if Forby and Phelps wish they had supported Quinn. Turns out they still had a lot to lose.

  19. - Patrick Sharp - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 2:46 pm:

    Anyone who thinks Illiana is unnecessary needs to take a ride through Will County.

  20. - Mister M - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 3:48 pm:

    The Illiana, if built, will be a Tollway to be sure. So, whether for or against the boondoggle, should not all funding come from Tollway funds? IDOT has already spent too much money developing roadways that are then turned over to the Tollway.

  21. - DuPage - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 4:42 pm:

    Doesn’t the federal highway trust fund pay for the majority of the cost of building the highway?
    To save a million, the state might lose several times that amount. That would be sort of “reverse leverage” of the money. If Illinois leaves our money on the table, some other state might pick it up to build highways in their state.

  22. - Mister M - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 5:16 pm:

    “Doesn’t the federal highway trust fund pay for the majority of the cost of building the highway?”

    Last I knew, not for a Tollway. But there are sizable costs for the state (IDOT), like the ones now, for studies, planning, land aquisition, etc. and I believe the state eats those….leaving less for other roads.

  23. - Anon - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 6:01 pm:

    Tollway turned the project down based upon their traffic studies

  24. - roads scholar - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 8:15 pm:

    Interesting to hear people continue to state that the Illiana is needed and would be an economic engine like these are incontrovertible facts. Doubt about both propositions is precisely why CMAP opposed the road.

    Dispute CMAP’s analysis if you’d like, but bear in mind their former Executive Director is now running IDOT.

  25. - Chicago 20 - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:49 pm:

    More than anything, it probably has something to do with CMAP’s “planning”.

    CMAP was happy to spend 3 times more on a 10 mile road, but hey, a lot of connected folks were able to buy that land before the road was built and made windfall profits when their land was purchased by the State.

    Maybe in a few years the Illiana will be built, for more money, and the connected few owning the right parcels.

  26. - roads scholar - Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 7:13 am:

    @Chicago 20 - Oh my god, how could I miss that? Yeah, I guess we just need to wait for some connected people to care about the Peotone airport. And for those intermodal facilities to get a little bit of clout. Then we’ll see the Illiana built.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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