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Secretary Osman reflects on IDOT in 2023

IDOT Blog – Wednesday, January 17, 2024

As 2024 begins, I am reflecting on the impressive work IDOT has been doing up and down the state. I take great pride in spreading the word about the contributions our staff makes to Illinois and what the department has been able to achieve. This isn’t a short list and I hope you’ll take a moment or two to join me in acknowledging the incredible year IDOT had.

In July, we released the largest multi-year program to fix and repair infrastructure in state history: $41 billion over six years, showcasing the reach and impact of Rebuild Illinois. Covering fiscal years 2024 - 2029, the multi-year program is the first time in more than a decade we released a comprehensive approach to invest in all modes of transportation.

This past year marked the fourth full year of Gov. JB Pritzker’s $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital program, the largest in state history. Closing out 2023, accomplishments under the program include approximately $13.6 billion in improvements statewide on 5,659 miles of highway, 578 bridges and 862 additional safety improvements, ranging from routine maintenance projects and minor resurfacings to extensive interstate and bridge reconstructions with new bike and pedestrian features.

With the passage of the president’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021, Rebuild Illinois has been supercharged. Through Gov. Pritzker’s leadership and the support provided by IIJA, a foundation has been laid to remake transportation as we know it.

Three years ago, the governor signed the Reimagining Electric Vehicles in Illinois Act with nearly unanimous support in the General Assembly – a major step toward the goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. We’re proud to have contributed to continuing developments as plans to build battery plants and an EV assembly facility take shape.

Personally, one of my most satisfying accomplishments of 2023 was the naming of the new District 6 headquarters after former Director of Highways James Easterly, who died in 2011 but was a mentor to so many of us still here today. The dedication was the first time a regional office was named after one of IDOT’s own.

Of course, we would not be able to do this work if we did not have good people. Investing in our employees and hiring the best and brightest is among our highest priorities. We are committed to bringing on new talent, with an eye toward reaching students as young as junior high and high school to plant the seeds for employees who can grow a career at IDOT.

As always, safety is the foundation of everything we do. We’ve adopted a Saf System Approach to help us reduce fatalities. We have been especially concerned with pedestrian deaths, which accounted for more than 17% of all fatalities in 2021. We’re confronting this issue with a Vulnerable Road Users Safety Assessment that will help us get those numbers to zero.

Finally, diversity and equity are the cornerstones of my mission for IDOT. My goal is not only to continue to deliver the largest capital program in state history with Rebuild Illinois, but also to make sure it is the most inclusive.

Among IDOT’s many achievements this year are:

I-80: Work is progressing on the $1.3 billion reconstruction of I-80 in Will County. Completed in 2023 were the conversion of the Houbolt Road interchange into a diverging-diamond design, replacement of bridges at Shepley Road and Wheeler Avenue, and installation of temporary pavement on I-80’s westbound lanes between Ridge and River roads to accommodate traffic in the work zone during the upcoming construction seasons. Replacement of the Briggs Street bridge also is underway.

Kennedy Expressway: In Chicago, work wrapped up on the first year of the inbound Kennedy Expressway (Interstate 90/94) three-year, $150 million rehabilitation project. The overall project will rehabilitate 36 bridge structures and the reversible lanes system, replace overhead sign structures, install new signage and modernize LED lights. The improvements also include pavement patching and structural painting. Hubbard’s Cave, from Grand Avenue to Wayman Street, will be painted and new LED lighting installed. 

McClugage Bridge: The new eastbound $167 million McClugage Bridge between Peoria and East Peoria continues to progress with the decking of the new span as well as assembly and installation of the 650-foot steel arch. The bridge is expected to open to traffic in late 2024, with some work going into 2025.

Bob Michel and Lacon bridges: Just before Christmas, the $24.6 million Bob Michel Bridge rehabilitation in Peoria wrapped up, highlighted by a new shared-use path protected from Illinois 40 traffic by a concrete barrier. In Lacon, an $11.3 million rehabilitation installed a concrete deck overlay, pier protection repairs, structural steel repairs and more. 

I-57/74: In Champaign, a $251.8 million multiyear project to reconstruct the I-57/74 interchange entered a new phase with the installation of girders for two flyover ramps. Modernizing an interchange built more than 50 years ago to improve safety and mobility in the area, the project is anticipated to be substantially complete in late 2025, with some work remaining in 2026.

I-270: Gov. Pritzker officially kicked off construction of the new I-270 Chain of Rocks Bridge in the Metro East. The $496.2 million joint Illinois-Missouri project will replace the existing 57-year-old bridge with two wider structures to accommodate the eventual expansion of I-270 to three lanes in each direction.

I-24 and I-57: The I-24 corridor in Southern Illinois received several improvements in 2023. Patching and resurfacing were completed on 22 miles, a $41.4 million total investment. A $7.2 million bridge replacement also is underway at milepost 27.5. A $2.1 million resurfacing was completed on the bridge crossing the Ohio River. In southern Illinois, the ongoing effort to make I-57 six lanes and strengthen a key link in the National Highway Freight Network continued in 2023.  

Rail: Illinois ushered in high-speed rail with the completion of track upgrades that ultimately increased speeds from 79 mph to 110 mph between Chicago and St. Louis. The $1.6 billion project was made possible by $1.3 billion in federal funds and approximately $300 million from a mix of state and non-federal sources.

Transit: Downstate transit providers received nearly $114 million through Rebuild Illinois to build bus shelters, stations and maintenance facilities, advancing 44 projects in 32 transit systems.

Bicycles and pedestrians: The Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program awarded $127.9 million for 72 statewide projects that include biking and walking paths, streetscape beautification and other improvements designed to encourage safe travel across various modes of local transportation. Due to Rebuild Illinois, we are investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure more than ever.

Freight: The Illinois Competitive Freight Program administered by IDOT awarded $197.5 million to 22 projects that will improve the movement of freight throughout the state and create jobs and economic opportunity while enhancing safety and local quality of life.

Airports: A $5.4 million investment in the St. Louis Downtown Airport in St. Clair County will improve safety, reliability and efficiency while boosting airport business and global competitiveness. The improvements, celebrated by Gov. Pritzker at an event last summer, will accommodate more than 500 yearly aircraft maintenance tests that require the ground operation of engines at high power.

Awards: The reconstruction and modernization of Chicago’s Jane Byrne Interchange and Will County’s Weber Road interchange won top Midwest honors in the America’s Transportation Awards, sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Byrne was named a Top 12 finalist for national project of the year, the fourth time in six years an IDOT project made the cut.  

IDOT also received the highest prize for public awareness events from the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials for its creative, engaging partnership with the Peoria Chiefs, calling attention to work zone safety through the Orange Barrels mascot and promotion.

Diversity: IDOT hosted the 32nd “Today’s Challenge, Tomorrow’s Reward” conference in February in Springfield. The longtime conference hosted by IDOT’s Office of Business and Workforce Diversity provides female- and minority-owned businesses with skill-building and networking opportunities. The next conference is set for Feb. 21.

These accomplishments would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of our workers and all Illinois residents. Thank you. I am grateful to be part of this fantastic team, helping to make our state a better place for all of you.

My best wishes to each of you in the new year!


Omer Osman

Secretary, Illinois Department of Transportation