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May 5, 2000


CHICAGO - Governor George H. Ryan today marked the one-year anniversary of the Illinois FIRST program by officially announcing a $42 million state contribution over five years to the Chicago Shoreline Protection Project.

"The existing structures that guard the Lake Michigan Shoreline in Illinois from flood and storm damage not only have expired - they have crumbled away," said Governor Ryan. "To fix this problem, the Federal government has authorized the reconstruction of eight miles of the shoreline. The Illinois FIRST program provides for essential infrastructure improvements just like this."

The state has committed to paying one-third of the local obligation towards the federal match in Illinois FIRST money. The city of Chicago and the Chicago Park District are contributing the balance of this local share. Governor Ryan and Mayor Daley and have sent a letter to members of the Federal Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development to request additional financial assistance for this project. On May 4, 1999, Ryan proposed Illinois FIRST before a joint session of the General Assembly. Later that month, the initiative was approved by both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate. On June 15, Ryan signed Illinois FIRST into law.

Illinois FIRST, a Fund for Infrastructure, Roads, Schools and Transit, was developed by Governor Ryan to build, repair and upgrade the unmet critical infrastructure needs facing the citizens of Illinois. Included in the $12 billion package is a total of $4.1 billion dollars for the construction and repair of roads, highways and bridges, as well as railroad crossing safety, high-speed rail preparation and air transportation needs.

Another $4.1 billion is being invested in Illinois' deteriorating public transit system, while the state's School Construction Program has been doubled under Illinois FIRST, providing $2.2 billion to help local school districts build new classrooms and upgrade outdated facilities. Also, a $1.6 million quality of life component will allow Illinois FIRST to address essential infrastructure needs such as water and sewage treatment facilities and public safety initiatives.

Ryan recognized the one-year anniversary of the Illinois FIRST program with a five-city, Illinois FIRST fly-around. Other stops on the governor's schedule included North Riverside where Ryan announced $3.5 million in Illinois FIRST grants enabling Riverside and North Riverside to construct a new water storage facility that will serve both communities. In Rochester, Ryan announced a $39 million project to expand Route 29 from two lanes to four lanes in Sangamon and Christian counties. In Rock Island, Ryan toured the new Black Hawk College Technology Center that was made possible through a $450,000 Illinois FIRST grant. And in Quincy, the governor highlighted the $85 million Illinois FIRST project that will extend Route 336 from Quincy to Macomb.


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