Governor looks ahead with job creation

By Anna Yee

April 3, 2012 Updated Apr 3, 2012 at 10:58 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- These roads could be the key to helping Illinois move past its economic road block.

Tuesday, Governor Pat Quinn, speaking at the Innovations Conference on Asphalt and Transportation in East Peoria, announced two major Central Illinois road projects.

One to widen Route 8 in Washington between Summit Drive and Legion Road. The other, to reconstruct Chillicothe's railroad viaduct and surrounding roads on Route 29.

Upcoming projects like these are expected to help reconstruct our economy, which Quinn said comes from investing in our state's transportation system.

"That's $43 billion that creates jobs, no question about it, construction jobs, in the spring, summer, and fall in particular," said Gov. Quinn, "and then it also lays down the foundation for a strong economy."

The Route 8 project is set to be competed this summer while the Route 29 construction will take about three years to finish.

An IDOT spokesman says both projects are estimated to create 400 plus jobs and will cost nearly $12 and a half million.

But there are some big bumps in the road that Quinn said need fixing before anything else. Those bumps are Illinois' medicaid and pension systems draining the state's budget.

State Senator Darrin LaHood said that's what workers' compensation is doing too.

"Really Illinois is behind all these other states in terms of competition and growing our economy, partly because of workers' compensation," said Sen. Darin LaHood, (R) 37th Dist., "and when the CEO of Caterpillar is telling you that, you better listen."

On Monday, CAT CEO Doug Oberhelman bashed the state's leaders for not making the right choices. Tuesday, he said the "clouds are clearing."

"It appears that legislative leadership in Springfield has stopped digging a hole, and there's sunshine," said Oberhelman. "I appreciate that very much, and I'm going to compliment you and your leadership."

Quinn's response?

He said he looks to Oberhelman's example to dream big with the state's economic thread of hope, its infrastructure, and transportation systems.