Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner made an appearance Tuesday at an Illinois Department of Transportation hearing on infrastructure needs.

IDOT is traveling all over the state to build support for a new construction program, and Rauner used his own travel experiences as an example.

As is often good practice when giving a speech, the governor started his remarks with a joke.


A federal judge has ordered a court-appointed monitor to investigate hiring at Gov. Pat Quinn's Department of Transportation.  

Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier told attorneys Wednesday that the monitor would help compliance of a decades-old political hiring ban.  

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by an anti-patronage attorney in April alleging improper hiring practices.  

Attorneys for Quinn's administration had said a separate monitor wasn't necessary and a state inspector general had completed a detailed probe and changes were made.  

Amanda Vinicky

  Gov. Pat Quinn wants to proceed with getting rid of dozens of Illinois Department of Transportation employees. The layoffs won't happen for at least another month.

Gov. Quinn doesn't claim the layoffs as his idea; rather, he says it was his newly-appointed IDOT Secretary, Erica Borggren, who came up with the "reorganization" that'll leave some 58 employees out of work.

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Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, political hiring at IDOT and attempts to get a term limits initiative on the November ballot.

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Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, the continuing investigation into patronage hiring at IDOT, questions about Bruce Rauner's companies' tax shelters, and a plea deal agreement involving state Representative LaShawn Ford.

Amanda Vinicky

  Amtrak ridership in Illinois has risen in recent years; it's up almost 85 percent from 2006 through last year. That trend developed after the rail service added routes. The train service could grow more in the future.

In 2006, lines branching out from Chicago that went to Carbondale, Quincy and St. Louis added trips.

Then there's the ongoing construction on tracks, that's supposed to make way for so-called "high speed rail" on line that runs through Bloomington and Springfield, and into Missouri. There's a potential for more expansion going forward.

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Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week's topics include the Illinois Inspector General's investigation into possible political hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation.  Also, an overview of the state's rules and regulations regarding medical marijuana.

Six months after state law increased interstate highway speeds from 65 to 70 miles per hour, transportation officials say there have been fewer fatalities on the road.  

Opponents of the bill said the increase in speed would lead to an increase in accidents.

Priscilla Tobias, state safety engineer with I-DOT, says while numbers are down, it's hard to discern whether the number is a trend.  As of Monday, Tobias says there's been 341 vehicle fatalities this year.

House Speaker Michael Madigan is elected to a 5th term as Chairman of the Illinois Democratic party and more allegations are being made that patronage plays a factor in hiring decisions at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Amanda Vinicky

  Illinois will invest another eight point six billion dollars into roads, bridges and other projects. It's the latest installment of a major infrastructure plan lawmakers passed in 2010. Now, Governor Pat Quinn is calling for a new one. But he's not saying where the money should come from.

The 2010 infrastructure program - known as Illinois Jobs Now! - has funded thousands of miles of road repairs so far -- paid for by higher taxes on alcohol, candy and soft drinks; a higher license plate fee; and revenue from video poker.

Illinois has agreed to pay more for in-state Amtrak trains. The deal prevents a shutdown of rail service that could have happened as early as next week.

Illinois is the second-to-last state to reach an agreement with Amtrak.

The deal was necessary because of a federal law that requires states to pay more if they want to keep shorter-distance rail lines.

Some states, like California, will pay millions of extra dollars.

road construction
Gary Brown via Flickr (gsbrown99)

Less than half of the money in Illinois' Road Fund actually pays for highway construction and maintenance. That's the finding in a new audit (pdf) that also says the Road Fund overpaid for employee health insurance.