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May 2, 2000


EFFINGHAM-Governor George H. Ryan today broke ground on an Illinois FIRST project to construct the Raney Street Overpass near U.S. 40.

"The project that brings us to this site is one close to your hearts and important to the development of this area. The construction of this overpass will ensure better access to Effingham's Industrial Park from the interstate," Ryan said.

Ryan was joined at Effingham High School by Effingham Mayor Robert Utz, state Sen. Bill O'Daniel, D-Mt. Vernon, and state Rep. Chuck Hartke, D-Effingham, Transportation Director Kirk Brown, and Revenue Director Glen Bower. The Governor commended state and local officials as they began the third phase of a seven-phase project.

"Almost every ounce of cement and piece of metal that goes into this overpass is due to these public servants, who fought for the funding from the General Assembly, the Congress, and the City of Effingham. By December of this year, you will see the fruits of your labor come together in this $13.5 million railroad overpass," Ryan said.

In addition to the $5.6 million committed in state funds, the project will received $2.7 million from the federal government, $1.3 million from the City of Effingham and about one-half million from other funds. Ryan noted that the Raney Street crossing is just one example of local funding through Illinois FIRST. In the first year alone, there is $18.3 million in Illinois First and road repair funding for Effingham County.

  • Altamont will see sidewalk repairs and Main Street improvements with $290,000 in funding from Illinois First.
  • Effingham will see transportation funding totaling more than $58 million for resurfacing on I-57, I-70, U.S. 40 and U.S. 45, as well as road widening, parking improvement, and more turning lanes from Mason to the Little Wabash River.

"Prior to Illinois FIRST, the state had not built a new mile of road in more than eight years," Ryan added. "But in just one year, with Illinois FIRST in place, we have increased the state's commitment to new roads and high repairs by 101 percent. That's going to create an estimated 55,000 construction jobs all over Illinois."

Safety improvements at rail crossings are part of Ryan's transportation program. The state reaffirmed its commitment to grade crossing safety by approving a 50 percent increase in 1999 in the Grade Crossing Protection Fund. "In addition for the next five years, $280 million will be invested in grade crossing safety improvements," he said. "This will be done through Illinois FIRST. Illinois FIRST has helped local communities do things they could not have done otherwise without raising property taxes."

Because Illinois has used state money to make improvements in safety, rail accidents have declined annually since 1979 from more than 800 to 178 in the last 1990s, despite statistics that show rail and road traffic has doubled during this period.


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