Friday, September 4, 2015

IDOT’s New Secretary Warns Against “Planning For Yesterday”

Governor Rauner’s newly appointed Secretary of Transportation Randy Blankenhorn warned in a speech September 3 at the City Club of Chicago that his agency is far behind the times: “I’m afraid that we’re planning for yesterday’s transportation system,” he told his audience of transportation professionals. Describing a bus load of four year olds driven for an hour each way to and from preschool, Blankenhorn complained: “That’s a transportation system that is not working.”

Reporting on the results of his listening tour around the state following his appointment, Blankenhorn said one logistics executive told him the business the state’s highways and intermodal rail facilities as its warehouses, because of the slow pace of freight movement across the state. “IDOT is not going to come up with the solution,” he warned, “It is going to be you. … Do we continue to build overhead message signs that tell me how late I am, or do we do a better job?”

In response to one question about designating high occupancy vehicle lanes on existing superhighways, Blankenhorn said he would prefer adding express toll lanes as roads are widened, so drivers needing to speed along to their destinations could pay for the privilege. He said tolls for such express lane usage would vary depending on the time of day and the traffic congestion conditions.

In concluding his address, Blankenhorn pointed out that nothing is likely to change regarding plans for future transportation needs until Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan work out their budget differences, and get the legislature back to work on the stacks and stacks of other legislation remaining to be processed.

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