Kurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau
SPRINGFIELD | Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Tuesday he will suspend plans to build the Illiana Expressway in response to the budget plan approved by Democrats.
With the spending blueprint approved in the General Assembly last week more than $3 billion out of balance, the governor said he must begin taking steps now to prepare for the start of the fiscal year July 1.
The governor promised to shut down work on the Illiana Expressway -- a proposed toll road connecting Interstate 55 in Illinois with Interstate 65 in Indiana.
"In light of the state's current fiscal crisis and a lack of sufficient capital resources, the Illiana Expressway will not move forward at this time," the administration stated.
Indiana House Transportation Committee Chairman Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said he received a memo from the Indiana Department of Transportation on Tuesday informing him that Illinois was indefinitely suspending work on the Illiana Expressway.
Soliday said Rauner and IDOT will come to rue the day they indefinitely suspended the project, because traffic volumes will steadily build on Interstate 80/94. He said that traffic will reach a choke point when the Panama Canal widening is done, sending huge volumes of truck traffic to Chicago as new mega-ships unload at coast ports.
"It's like an oil change with the Illiana," Soliday said. "It's either pay for it now or pay for it later. They'll just pay more later when they have to build it."