* John Greenfield at StreetsBlog Chicago has a post up about the Pritzker transition’s Restoring Illinois Infrastructure Committee….
However, conspicuously absent from the committee are any dedicated pedestrian and bike advocacy organizations. ([Metropolitan Planning Council] does frequently voice support for better walking and biking conditions, but it has a broader mission of “shaping a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region.”)
According to a source, the Active Transportation Alliance — the region’s leading walking, biking, and transit advocacy organization – directly asked Pritzker’s organization to be included in the committee, and was recommended by others to the governor-elect. Two Active Trans reps served on Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s transition team in 2011. Moreover, current Active Trans director Ron Burke served as associate director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency from 2003-2008, so he has plenty of state government experience. […]
However, a couple of possibilities come to mind. Organized labor was a key source of support for Pritzker’s campaign, and there are plenty of entities that benefit from road-building projects represented on the committee. After current governor Bruce Rauner proposed widening multiple Chicagoland expressways to create more capacity for driving, Active Trans called for a moratorium on expressway expansion. That likely irritated some figures in the road-building lobby.
Active Trans has also been pushing for $50 million a year in state transportation funds to be earmarked for walking and biking projects, with a focus on improving conditions in lower-income communities. 27 Chicago CEOs sent a letter to Rauner and Pritzker asking them to commit to making the state Bike Walk Fund a reality, and multiple Chicago community organizations have voiced support for the idea.
While $50 million would only represent about 2 percent of the Illinois transportation budget, very little state money is currently used for walking and biking infrastructure. So it’s likely some labor, construction, and highway engineering folks would be loathe to see any funds diverted from road building.
* I reached out to the Pritzker transition team…
The Restoring Illinois’ Infrastructure committee represents a wide range of interests and is considering every mode of transportation, including biker and pedestrian concerns. There are a number of critical voices and stakeholders on this subject matter and while all could not be included on this committee, we are soliciting feedback from the public and other organizations on the transition website. As JB transitions into office, he will continue bringing stakeholders to the table to shape his policy agenda and improve the lives of Illinoisans.
* And there’s this…