UPDATED: Obama's 'Fix it First' Program Would Mend 'Deficient' Elmhurst Bridges
In his 2013 State of the Union Address Tuesday, President Barack Obama touched on immigration policy, gun control and the economy, among other national issues. In terms of infrastructure, he proposed a "Fix it First" plan that may affect Elmhurst.
UPDATE Feb. 15:
Elmhurst Patch has updated the original story by removing information indicating the bridge on Interstate 294 over I-88 and the bridge on I-294 over eastbound Roosevelt are deficient.
Joelle McGinnis, who handles communications for the Illinois Tollway, said information in the interactive map published by Transportation for America, which is linked below, is incorrect with regard to the two bridges on I-294.
Via email on Friday, she said:
"The Federal Highway Administration’s 2010 National Bridge Inventory data used by Transportation for America does not accurately reflect the condition of Illinois Tollway bridges on the Tri-State Tollway (I-294). Neither bridge is currently rated structurally deficient. The bridge on I-294 crossing the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) was repaired in 2010, and the bridge on I-294 crossing eastbound Roosevelt Road to eastbound I-290 was repaired in 2009."
President Barack Obama proposed Tuesday night what he called a "Fix It First" program to address the nation's crumbling infrastructure—like roads and bridges—in an effort to improve citizens' quality of life and bring jobs to the United States.
"I propose a 'Fix-It-First' program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country," he said during the State of the Union Address.
"And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most—modern ports to move goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children."
Some of the structurally deficient bridges Obama referred to are located in and around Elmhurst, according to Transportation for America. The organization's campaign says coordinators are "eager to reform how we spend transportation dollars at the federal, state and local level to create a safer, cleaner and smarter transportation system that works for everyone."
Three bridges in Elmhurst are categorized as "deficient" according to Transportation for America, although Illinois Tollway representative Joelle McGinnis says the information regarding bridges on Interstate 294 is inaccurate. The third bridge in Elmhurst listed as "deficient" is the bridge on North Avenue that crosses Salt Creek. Built in 1995, this bridge sees 44,500 cars per day on average.
See the accompanying map for a look at other deficient bridges near Elmhurst. Deficient bridges are indicated in red.
Overall, Illinois ranks 35th in the country when it comes to inadequate bridges, with about 8.5 percent of all its bridges rated as such.
That may change if Obama has anything to say about it.
"Let’s prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America," he said Tuesday. "And let’s start right away."
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-5th) Responds to SOTU
Mike Quigley, who is representing Elmhurst as the U.S. Representative in the 5th Congressional District, had this to say in response to the president's address:
“The President has a 21st century vision for America that promotes economic prosperity and protects our citizens with sensible policies that a majority of Americans support.
We can create jobs and increase our competitiveness by using American innovation and entrepreneurship to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, invest in clean energy, and create a high-skilled immigration system that attracts and retains foreign talent.
We can provide long-term economic security with a big, balanced and bipartisan budget plan that addresses deficit reduction and entitlement reforms while protecting seniors and the middle class.
And we can protect our children with commonsense gun law reforms that keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.”
Quigley has led a push for a “3B Budget Plan” that is bipartisan, achieves big deficit reduction, and balances spending cuts with tax reform. He is the author of Reinventing Government: The Federal Budget, a report which offers 60 recommendations to save $2 trillion over the next 10 years.