On Thursday, July 9, the U.S. Department of Transportation released new data revealing that a stunning 73% of roads throughout Illinois are now in poor or mediocre condition.
According to WREX, this is significantly worse than the national average; across the country, approximately 65% of roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
Additionally, 16% of Illinois’ bridges are now either structurally deficient or structurally obsolete, the Department of Transportation found.
Rough roads offer more than just a bumpy ride — they can cost drivers thousands of dollars in extra vehicle repairs each year. Roads in this condition cost American drivers an additional $335 each year in repairs; for drivers in large cities, these costs reach $746.
The Department of Transportation’s research found that Illinois drivers spend $2.4 billion each year on extra vehicle repairs stemming from rough roads and potholes, or about $292 per driver.
The U.S. DOT claimed that roads in Illinois are in such poor condition because of the state taking short-term measures rather than setting up long-term funding for more substantive road repairs.
At the same time, the state of Illinois is focusing on more frivolous projects, such as the $1.5 million it spent to create “The Driving Dead,” a series of videos intended to raise awareness about the rate of fatal car crashes in Illinois.
According to the Watchdog Arena, the Illinois Department of Transportation has been creating these videos, based on the popular TV series “The Walking Dead,” with money taken directly from its road repair fund.
To raise the money needed for the road repairs themselves, the state is now considering a gas tax increase — despite the fact that Illinois residents already spend $4 billion in state, federal and local gasoline taxes per year.
“The question every taxpayer should be asking is why is IDOT using road fund money to make movies instead of using it to fix the roads,” Watchdog Arena wrote.