Yesterday the Lake County Board enacted an ordinance to address the $1.7 billion transportation project backlog in Lake County. The new ordinance will provide an estimated $10 million dollars each year in new transportation infrastructure investments through the adoption of a four cents per gallon local county motor fuel tax.
“This investment will allow us to address critical transportation needs that residents have been asking about for decades, including railroad grade separations, road widenings, safer turn lanes, and other necessary improvements which will reduce congestion, reduce carbon emissions and improve traffic safety across Lake County,” said Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart. “Many of these projects, if left unaddressed, pose significant traffic congestion and safety issues.”
For the previous two years, Lake County has maintained a flat property tax levy, something it had not done for at least 20 years previously.
“Holding the line on property taxes is a priority for the Lake County Board,” Hart said. “It was important for us to find a way to fund infrastructure projects without relying on raising property taxes.”
The ordinance goes into effect July 1 and all of the revenue will stay in Lake County and is required to be dedicated to improving Lake County’s transportation system.
Before today, Lake County was the only Chicago-area county that had not enacted a motor fuel tax. DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties adopted a four cents per gallon motor fuel tax after an Illinois law was passed in 1989. In 2019, Will County enacted its four cents per gallon motor fuel tax and in December 2020 DuPage County raised its motor fuel tax to eight cents per gallon.
The $1.7 billion backlog stems from Lake County’s 2040 Transportation plan that identifies deficiencies and recommends improvements necessary to address the county’s future transportation needs, including roadway, transit, and non-motorized modes of travel.
“An investment in infrastructure not only improves our transportation system, but will also aid in our region’s recovery by enhancing economic development and allowing us to attract and retain more jobs,” said Bill Durkin, Lake County Public Works, Planning and Transportation Committee Chair. “These funds will go directly to projects that ensure you spend less time driving to work, waiting for a train, sitting at a red light, and thinking about the dangerous left-turn on your way home.”
“The infrastructure investment will also support Lake County’s economic development and business growth strategies,” said Paul Frank, Lake County Financial and Administrative Committee Chair. “Lake County Partners told us a very recent example of how a road improvement project reduced congestion, spurred investment and brought nearly 300 new jobs to the county. Each of those jobs is a person who supports themselves and or their family. This is an investment in our county and in our people.”
The public can view all of the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) projects that are currently programmed over the next five years through LCDOT’s 5-Year Transportation Improvement Program.