Illinois Department of Transportation

Statehouse
10:41 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Judge Orders Court Appointed Monitor For IDOT Hiring

Credit IDOT

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.  

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Statehouse
6:24 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Attorneys Due In Court For Quinn Hiring Lawsuit

Credit IDOT

Attorneys are returning to court in a federal lawsuit over hiring in Gov. Pat Quinn's Department of Transportation.
 
 Anti-patronage attorney Michael Shakman has asked for a court-appointed monitor
of hiring as part of a lawsuit filed in April. He's said it would ensure the
administration complies with bans on political hiring for nonpolitical jobs.
 
 Quinn's attorneys have argued a monitor isn't necessary. They've said Quinn's
response to allegations of political hiring in the Department of Transportation

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Statehouse
8:23 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Attorney: Illinois Needs Monitor To Oversee Hires

Inspector General report on IDOT
Credit Amanda Vinicky

A Chicago attorney and anti-corruption campaigner is stressing that a court-appointed monitor is needed to ensure the state's Department of Transportation is in compliance with political hiring bans.  

Michael Shakman's filing Monday in federal court comes in response to a motion by Gov. Pat Quinn's attorneys that the governor's administration's response to allegations of political hiring in the department had been both ``prompt'' and ``appropriate.''  

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State Hiring
2:51 am
Thu September 25, 2014

IDOT Layoffs Halted, But Quinn Wants To Proceed

Gov. Pat Quinn was at an unrelated appearance in Springfield when he was asked about the timing of the IDOT layoffs.
Credit 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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Statehouse
3:21 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Fired IDOT Workers Sue Quinn Administration

Credit WUIS

Fifty-five workers who have been told they're being laid off by the Illinois Department of Transportation claimed in a lawsuit Friday that they're being fired to spare Gov. Pat Quinn election-campaign embarrassment over a hiring scandal.  

The Democratic governor's administration fired the so-called ``staff assistants'' last month in an IDOT shake up over a state investigation that found the agency hired 255 people over 10 years without going through proper channels to give everyone a chance to be hired.  

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Transportation
10:34 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Illinois To Re-Open Some Highway Rest Areas

Credit flickr/NicholasEckhart

Eight of Illinois' 30 interstate rest areas that have been closed are set to reopen this fall.
 
Maintenance was required at the closed facilities, but it's not clear why most
of it happened around the same time period, Paris Ervin, a spokeswoman for the
state Department of Transportation, told the Springfield bureau of Lee
Enterprises newspapers (http://bit.ly/1pH3tfX ).
 
The Salt Kettle rest area, on Interstate 74 west of Danville, parts of the
Silver Lake rest area, along Interstate 70, and the Gateway rest area,

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Statehouse
1:45 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Governor Quinn Wants New IDOT Hiring Review

Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll ask the Illinois Department of Transportation's secretary for a new review of hiring connected to a position that's been the subject of an investigative report and federal lawsuit.
 
Last month the Office of the Executive Inspector General reported the agency
sidestepped clout-busting regulations and improperly hired 255 ``staff
assistant'' positions in the past decade. Also last month, IDOT announced it
laid off 58 people still holding that position and abolished the title.
 

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Statehouse
5:48 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Teamsters Vow To Fight IDOT Layoffs

Credit wuis

Lawyers representing 55 Illinois Department of Transportation workers laid off last week say the employees should be able to continue working for the agency in their staff assistant positions.  
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports the employees are members of the Teamsters union. Their positions were criticized by a state inspector general's report and are at the crux of a federal lawsuit alleging illegal hiring at the agency.

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Statehouse
12:51 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Report Says IDOT Broke Hiring Rules For Years

Credit flickr/denniscarr

The state's top ethics investigator says the Illinois Department of Transportation improperly hired more than 250 employees in the past decade.  

Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza's  report says the practice began in 2003 but continued under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. 

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Statehouse
4:56 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

IDOT Cuts Positions Following Hiring Questions

Credit IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation is eliminating 58
positions that are at the center of a lawsuit alleging questionable hiring
practices.
 
 Acting Secretary Erica Borggren said Thursday the move is designed to boost
``accountability and restore public trust.''
 
In addition to eliminating ``staff assistant'' positions, IDOT is creating a
board to evaluate hiring, and is continuing a freeze on hiring for positions
that can be filled based on political connections.
 

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Patronage at IDOT
12:52 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Quinn Won't Say Why Administration Contradicted Itself On Patronage

Gov. Pat Quinn takes questions from reporters Friday morning after cutting the ribbon at the 2014 Illinois State Fair.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor Pat Quinn won't say why his administration contradicted itself when it came to cleaning up hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation. The administration had previously said the fix was done, but now says it isn't complete.

In facing a lawsuit over political patronage hiring at IDOT, Gov. Quinn characterized it as a non-issue.

His administration said it had already taken care of the problem; that IDOT had reduced the number of jobs in which politics would be taken into consideration.

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Top Democrats Request More Routes
8:46 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Full Steam Ahead For Amtrak

An Amtrak train stops to drop off and pick up passengers at the Springfield station.
Credit 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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Statehouse
5:01 am
Fri July 4, 2014

AP: Quinn Halts Political Hiring

Credit flickr/tripp

Gov. Pat Quinn has ordered a moratorium on political hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation and is requiring executive-level staff in every state agency to undergo training about proper hiring practices.  

The Chicago Democrat's actions come amid questions about whether state jobs were improperly filled based on clout rather than qualifications.  

The Associated Press obtained copies of memos sent Thursday by Quinn's attorney to IDOT leadership and the heads of all agencies, boards and commissions.  

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Transportation
12:03 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Flashing Yellow Arrows Coming To Wabash Ave.

Credit udot.utah.gov

Traffic signals designed to prevent accidents are being installed on Springfield's west side.

Flashing yellow arrows will display at several intersections along Wabash Avenue, including at the White Oaks mall entrances.
The state Department of Transportation says the arrows have resulted in significant reductions in crashes where they are in place in other areas.  Statistics show intersections account for more than 30 percent of accidents.  

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10th Street Rail Corridor
5:06 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Ombudsman To Act As Go-Between For 10th Street Rail Corridor

Retired Judge Theodis Lewis will serve as ombudsman for the 10th Street Rail Corridor project. Lewis addressed a press conference at the location of the first construction, at 10th and Carpenter, on Monday.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Negotiations between residents of the 10th Street Corridor and the Illinois Department of Transportation , now that there is a go-between for the high speed rail project. A new ombudsman says he will be independent of either side.

Retired Judge Theodis Lewis will mediate discussions and disputes as the city and state get going on construction of the 10th Street Rail Corridor. Lewis' position was announced in downtown Springfield, on the site of the first phase of construction, at 10th and Carpenter. An underpass is slated to begin in late summer.

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Statehouse
1:45 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

AP: IDOT Hires Had Political Clout

Dozens of state jobs involved in a dispute over whether they should be free of politics were filled by Gov. Pat Quinn's administration with candidates who were politically connected or gave campaign money to the governor's party.  
That's according to an Associated Press review of state documents.  

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Statehouse
5:37 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Documents Show Increase In Patronage Hiring

Gov. Pat Quinn and IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider appear together in early April to announce plans for road construction.
Credit WUIS

Documents released by Gov. Pat Quinn's office show
that patronage positions at the Illinois Department of Transportation increased 57 percent from 2003 to 2011.
 
 Memos that the Quinn administration released Friday show that in 2011 there were 369 jobs at IDOT that could be given without restriction to those with
political connections. That was up from 234 in 2003.
 

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Illinois Jobs Now!
4:38 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Raising Gax Tax "Unwise," Says Quinn, But Offers No Other Ideas

Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider announces an $8.6 billion, six-year transportation construction program, with Gov. Pat Quinn at her side.
Credit 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.

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Regional
2:21 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Another Cold Night Ahead; Motorists Advised To Stay Home

Credit flickr/stinnett

The snowstorm that dumped several inches on Illinois has moved out of the state.  But high winds and extremely cold temperatures make for another night of dangerous conditions.   Interstates have slick spots from where blowing snow has covered the road.  Many secondary roads are in much worse shape.  
Ann Schneider, Illinois' Transportation Secretary, says her agency has been advising the public to avoid driving...

"And so it's still very treacherous for motorists and we strongly encourage motorists if they don't have to travel, please don't. Stay home," Schneider said.

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Need for Speed
11:36 am
Tue December 31, 2013

70 mph New Year's Day? Not So Fast ...

This Illinois Department of Transportation map shows where the speed limit increases to 70 mph as of Jan. 1, 2014.
Credit IDOT

Beginning Jan. 1, the maximum speed limit in Illinois will increase to 70 miles an hour. But you might want to hold off on the throttle for at least a few weeks.

While the new 70 mph law technically goes into effect at midnight on New Year's Day, it's going to take the Illinois Department of Transportation a little while to get all the new speed limit signs put up. Until then, IDOT spokeswoman Paris Earvin says, "We really encourage motorists to obey the posted speed limits."

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Rail
2:43 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Open House Scheduled For 3rd St. Rail Improvements

Credit WUIS

A hearing Tuesday afternoon in Springfield will explain improvements to the  3rd Street rail line.
Springfield leaders breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced rail traffic would be consolidated along 10th Street.  They had concerns of more and faster trains traveling through the heart of downtown.  But while the 10th Street corridor is being revamped, the  trains won't wait.  That means safety improvements are needed along 3rd Street.

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Transportation
3:45 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Sangamon County In Top Ten For Deer-Vehicle Accidents

It's likely you or someone you know have struck a deer.   While it seems as though they are always wandering into the road, the actual number of deer-vehicle accidents was down last year.  

State Farm Insurance has already predicted another decline based on claims filed.   The company attributes the expected decline in accidents to a smaller deer population and increased driver awareness.  It says Illinois drivers have less chance of hitting a deer than the national average.  

In Sangamon County last year, there were 335 accidents, 75 fewer than the year before.  

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Statehouse
11:44 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Member Of State Panel Resigns After Hosting Political Fundraiser

Sen. Martin Sandoval

A member of a board that helps choose engineers to
design Illinois roads has resigned after he co-hosted a political fundraiser for the chairman of the state Senate's Transportation Committee. 

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Statehouse
5:51 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Illinois Speed Limit Going To 70 MPH

Credit flickr/theeggplant

Illinois' top speed limit will go up on many highways beginning in January.  Governor Pat Quinn has signed a new law increasing the speed limit from 65 to 70 m.p.h.                
Quinn bucked the advice of his Department of Transportation, which opposed the legislation.
IDOT says a higher speed limit will raise average speeds leading to more crashes and fatalities.
But the measure's sponsor, Rep. Jerry Costello (D_Smithton) says more accidents happen because of vehicles traveling at different speeds ... not because of higher speeds.

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Audit
6:30 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Road Fund Overpaid For Health Insurance

Credit 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.

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