With 139,000 miles of roadways – the 4th most in the U.S. – Illinois is a major player in the nation’s interstate travel and transportation.

However, Illinois’ critical transportation infrastructure and funding are falling behind, creating bottlenecks and commuter problems.

Renewable energy

Illinois is on track to get 25% of its renewables by 2025

energy efficiency

Consumers get the same services for less money

fossil fuels

Burning fossil fuels harms our health and environment


The transportation sector is now the largest carbon emitter

Roads and Bridges in Illinois

As a result of the lack of upkeep caused by budget shortfalls, 42% of Illinois’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 16% of bridges in Illinois are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Despite this need for capital improvement on current roads, there are several current road expansion proposals that will have a negative impact on surrounding environmental features such as the Illiana Tollroad, Rt 53 expansion, and Rt. 66 expansion. Environmental protections are critical in planning new road projects.
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and all-electric vehicles (EVs) — also called electric drive vehicles collectively — are an increasingly common sight on Illinois roadways. EVs use electricity either as their primary fuel or to improve the efficiency of conventional vehicle designs. According to Edmunds and as of 2014, Illinois ranked 10th in the nation for percentage of EV (0.3%) registrations. Through its partnership with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition, Illinois has installed one of the most comprehensive public charging station networks in the United States. EVs and PHEVs running only on electricity have zero tailpipe emissions, but emissions may be produced by the source of electrical power, such as a power plant, so as Illinois transitions to renewable energy, EVs become even more effective in reducing Illinois’ carbon emissions.
Illinois is especially well suited to one mode that contributes zero carbon emissions: bicycling. Chicago currently has more than 200 miles of on-street protected, buffered and shared bike lanes, many miles of off-street paths (including the 18.5-mile Lakefront Trail), more than 13,000 bike racks, and sheltered, high-capacity, bike parking areas at many CTA rail stations. In other areas of the state, flat prairie land offers ideal conditions for road bikes.

Freight and Passenger Rail in Illinois

llinois has 669.1 million annual, unlinked passenger trips via transit systems—bus, heavy rail, light rail, and commuter rail. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Metra combine to serve nearly 2 million transit riders each weekday and Chicago is Amtrak’s primary intercity rail hub outside the Northeast. Lamentably, Illinois ranks among the top 5 states in terms of the longest commuting times in the country. In fact, only 53% of jobs in the region are accessible by transit in 90 minutes or less by a typical resident—and that number drops to 12% in the suburbs. As a result, only 11% of Chicagoland residents are able to ride transit to work and just 7% of all trips in the Chicago region are transit trips.
Freight costs associated with congestion delays amount to $9.2 billion. Congested interchanges have a major impact on the flow of freight and 2 of the nation’s top 5 most highly congested interchanges are located in Chicago. Rail moves approximately $350 billion in goods through the state each year. Illinois has 41 freight railroads covering 7,028 miles across the state—2nd in the nation by mileage. Chicago is the busiest rail hub in the U.S. with nearly 1,300 trains (freight and passenger) passing through the region each day but its century-old rail lines are not configured for the volumes and types of freight being carried currently. For example, the lack of grade separation and the competition of passenger and freight service on those lines serves to make Chicago the largest freight rail choke-point in the country.

Current Transportation Laws

Designated by the federal government as the Chicago region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, CMAP is responsible for reviewing and approving projects that use federal transportation dollars. Part of this role entails overseeing the implementation of the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan, which was created to address anticipated population growth of more than 2 million new residents.

NEPA requires that agencies take a hard look at how proposed transportation projects involving major federal action significantly affect the human environment. Agencies are to draw upon public participation to highlight and seriously consider comprehensive environmental, cultural and agricultural impacts in deciding whether and how to build projects like new highways and rail lines. While agencies are not required to select the most environmentally conscious alternative, NEPA injects policy considerations into the transportation planning process, which can result in preserving and protecting rare and important natural resources.

The Regional Transportation Agency is charged with transit planning for the six-county Northeastern Illinois region. The agency’s responsibilities include implementing projects, administering grant programs, growing ridership, and improving mobility. RTA also provides technical and analytical expertise in support of local public transit initiatives to municipalities and transportation agencies across the region. Many of these efforts are geared towards creating and preserving livable communities throughout Northeastern Illinois.
The region’s system covers approximately 3,700 square miles and serves approximately 8.4 million residents. The RTA’s regional system is the second largest transit system in the country by passenger miles traveled, behind only New York, and the third largest in the country by ridership, behind only New York and Los Angeles.

Passed in 2013, this act creates the South Suburban Cook County Brownfield Redevelopment Zone with the goal to redevelop brownfields (former industrial or commercial sites where future use is affected by environmental contamination) in the zone by leveraging the existing infrastructure around the CN Intermodal Terminal and the Union Pacific Intermodal Terminal.
Eligible projects are limited to those classified by the Urban Land Institute as: warehouse distribution, manufacturing, or freight forwarding. Eligible developers may be reimbursed for a variety of activities, including: environmental studies and remediation; land acquisition and demolition; recruiting and training minority residents from the zone; and upgrading the public infrastructure.

The Act has created economic opportunity and reinvestment in communities, jobs, and new industry in the suburbs.

Protecting Cyclists and Pedestrians from Harassment
As of 2010, this law makes it a crime to ride unnecessarily close to, toward or near a cyclist, pedestrian or equestrian. If the violation results in great bodily harm, the driver could be charged with a felony.

The 2008 Bicycle Safety Ordinance
Prohibits motorists from opening a door into moving traffic; sets a 3 foot minimum passing distance; and prohibits motorists from turning right in front of a bicyclist.

Illinois Complete Streets
Signed into law in 2007, this important legislation protects pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users. Requires that bicycle and pedestrian ways be established in or near urban areas in all state transportation projects.