From the Chicago Tribune:
Retiring state Rep. Margo McDermed, a Mokena Republican, said she was shocked by results of a poll of her district residents a few years ago.
She correctly predicted that two of the top three concerns would be property taxes and education. What surprised her was the issue that people cared about most.
“The No. 1 issue in the district was transportation,” said McDermed during an event Monday afternoon in Frankfort. “People here in the 37th District were afraid to drive on I-80.”
Phone calls and emails from residents and meetings with constituents backed up the survey results.
“I met people who were afraid to let their children drive on (I-80). They were afraid to drive it themselves,” McDermed said.
Safety fears increased earlier this year amid widespread reports about the structural integrity of Interstate 80’s steel-truss bridges over the Des Plaines River. The eastbound bridge was rated 7.4 on a scale of 100, while the westbound bridge scored a six.
The Illinois Department of Transportation assured motorists that the bridges were safe. But a group funded by construction companies and labor unions paid for billboards warning that the bridges were in “critical condition” and that drivers should “cross at your own risk.”
After the General Assembly approved the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital bill in late May, Gov. J.B. Pritzker visited Joliet and used the bridges as a backdrop to talk about the critical need to fund infrastructure.
Burke and others representing the Transportation For Illinois Coalition on Monday presented certificates of appreciation to McDermed and several other lawmakers who voted for the capital bill.
“It’s not an easy thing for a Republican to do, but it was the right thing to do,” Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland said.