With 139,000 miles of roadways – the 4th most in the U.S. – Illinois is a major player in the nation’s interstate travel and transportation. However, Illinois’ critical transportation infrastructure and funding are falling behind, creating bottlenecks and commuter problems.

Roads & Bridges

As a result of the lack of upkeep caused by budget shortfalls, 42% of Illinois’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 16% of bridges in Illinois are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Despite this need for capital improvement on current roads, there are several current road expansion proposals that will have a negative impact on surrounding environmental features such as the Illiana Tollroad, Rt 53 expansion, and Rt. 66 expansion. Environmental protections are critical in planning new road projects.
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and all-electric vehicles (EVs) — also called electric drive vehicles collectively — are an increasingly common sight on Illinois roadways. EVs use electricity either as their primary fuel or to improve the efficiency of conventional vehicle designs. According to Edmunds and as of 2014, Illinois ranked 10th in the nation for percentage of EV (0.3%) registrations. Through its partnership with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition, Illinois has installed one of the most comprehensive public charging station networks in the United States. EVs and PHEVs running only on electricity have zero tailpipe emissions, but emissions may be produced by the source of electrical power, such as a power plant, so as Illinois transitions to renewable energy, EVs become even more effective in reducing Illinois’ carbon emissions.
Illinois is especially well suited to one mode that contributes zero carbon emissions: bicycling. Chicago currently has more than 200 miles of on-street protected, buffered and shared bike lanes, many miles of off-street paths (including the 18.5-mile Lakefront Trail), more than 13,000 bike racks, and sheltered, high-capacity, bike parking areas at many CTA rail stations. In other areas of the state, flat prairie land offers ideal conditions for road bikes.

Freight & Passenger Rail

Illinois has 669.1 million annual, unlinked passenger trips via transit systems—bus, heavy rail, light rail, and commuter rail. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Metra combine to serve nearly 2 million transit riders each weekday and Chicago is Amtrak’s primary intercity rail hub outside the Northeast. Lamentably, Illinois ranks among the top 5 states in terms of the longest commuting times in the country. In fact, only 53% of jobs in the region are accessible by transit in 90 minutes or less by a typical resident—and that number drops to 12% in the suburbs. As a result, only 11% of Chicagoland residents are able to ride transit to work and just 7% of all trips in the Chicago region are transit trips.
Freight costs associated with congestion delays amount to $9.2 billion. Congested interchanges have a major impact on the flow of freight and 2 of the nation’s top 5 most highly congested interchanges are located in Chicago. Rail moves approximately $350 billion in goods through the state each year. Illinois has 41 freight railroads covering 7,028 miles across the state—2nd in the nation by mileage. Chicago is the busiest rail hub in the U.S. with nearly 1,300 trains (freight and passenger) passing through the region each day but its century-old rail lines are not configured for the volumes and types of freight being carried currently. For example, the lack of grade separation and the competition of passenger and freight service on those lines serves to make Chicago the largest freight rail choke-point in the country.
Current Laws and Transportation Programs
Chicago Metropolitan Agency of Planning (CMAP):
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA):
Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Act:
Illinois Jobs Now:
Brownfields Redevelopment and Intermodal Promotion Act:
Must Stop for Pedestrians Act:
Protecting Cyclists and Pedestrians from Harassment:
The 2008 Bicycle Safety Ordinance:
Illinois Complete Streets:
Our Vision
Illinois should ensure the CMAP GOTO2040 program continues to be supported with state level policies.
Investments should be increased for the RTA through budget appropriations and capital investment.
Adequate money should be appropriated for transportation needs at the state level.
The state should provide better funding sources for transportation and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) should guide the allocation of significant funds through its own capital program and metropolitan planning organizations.
Efficiency of the region’s rail infrastructure should be increased.
Policies should create safe travel environments for citizens and encourage walking and biking.
Illinois should encourage the use of Transit Oriented Development (TOD).
The Illinois Bike Transportation Plan should be fully staffed and implemented.
The Transportation Enhancements/Transportation Alternatives Program should be improved through more program efficiency and transparency, better obligation rates, and more emphasis on projects improving bicycling.
IDOT should fund sidewalks and bikeways at the same cost-sharing rate as other road projects.
The Parks and Conservation Fund should be used for its intended purposes.
Take Action and Learn More
Take Action:
Learn more about the Illiana boondogle and take action to stop it!
Building a Better Illinois: Report of the Transition Co-chairs to Governor-elect Rauner: January 2015
American Society of Engineers: Report Card for Illinois Infrastructure
Full ASCE 2017 Report
Transit Access Across America 2014: Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota.
How Your City’s Public Transit Stacks Up
Learn more about the Grand Crossing Rail Project and its relationship to the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program

Partners for Parks and Wildlife

Partners for Parks and Wildlife (PPW) is a grassroots coalition that is dedicated to secure and increase funding for open space and park acquisition, natural area preservation, wildlife habitat protection and recreational opportunities in Illinois.

Learn More About Climate Change

The U.S. EPA’s website on climate change was once a great resource for basic scientific information on the topic and we look forward to the day that it is again. Until then, the City of Chicago is making sure its citizens have access to research and information.


One of the simplest ways to donate to the IEC is by contributing through EarthShare in your workplace charity campaign .