Durbin, Foxx discuss Illinois' transportation needs

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx met on Wednesday to discuss the Highway Trust Fund crisis and safety issues tied to transporting volatile substances.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx met on Wednesday to discuss the Highway Trust Fund crisis and safety issues tied to transporting volatile substances. | Contributed photo
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) met with Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on Wednesday in Washington to discuss Illinois' transportation infrastructure.

The duo met to outline priorities and discuss the status of the Highway Trust Fund, which is likely to fall below critical levels this summer. Illinois’ declining transportation infrastructure could be in jeopardy without funding from federal sources.

“Illinois communities are at the heart of our national transportation network,” Durbin said. “Secretary Foxx and I agree: The next surface transportation reauthorization can help make a significant dent in our infrastructure deficit, but only if we make significant, long-term investments in our national infrastructure.”

Funding reauthorizations for highway and mass-transit systems markedly impact Illinois, which has one of the nation’s largest transportation networks. Approximately 15 percent of its roadways are in poor condition, costing drivers an average of $450 apiece annually in vehicle maintenance or repairs.

Durbin and Foxx also discussed concerns over dramatic increases in cross-country crude oil shipments and the safety issues involved. After an Illinois Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway derailment in March, Durbin and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) contacted Foxx, calling on him to renew efforts to improve safety standards for transporting flammable materials.

“As these tragic accidents become more frequent, stricter standards are needed to prevent these fiery train derailments from occurring,” Durbin said. “The administration should act now to…strengthen tank-car standards. Improving freight-rail safety is more critical than ever before.”

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