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Illinois transportation agency to spend millions on highway noise suppression

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(The Center Square) – A bill on the governor’s desk seeks to give the Illinois Department of Transportation the authority to create and implement a highway traffic noise suppression program. The program is subject to appropriation, but it could cost about $200 million in taxpayer money.

Senate Bill 3175 would allow for the construction of noise barriers. State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, asked questions of the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin, D-Olympia Fields, on the House floor.

“How much would be needed to fund this program for it to be operational?” Windhorst asked.

“There’s not an exact amount but it has been estimated at around $200 million, in which IDOT would be able to request, if this body gives them the authority, appropriations from the federal government,” Meyers-Martin replied.

Meyers-Martin said this is a statewide program and she’s not sure how much of that $200 million would be covered by the federal government.

“It would affect highways throughout the entire state,” said Meyers-Martin.

Meyers-Martin argued that the program is necessary because Illinois’ is the heart and soul of the nation’s interstate highway system.

“Our roads, bridges and highways further our state’s mission to serve as an economic hub … however, at times, this comes with noisy consequences for our neighbors who live near the highways,” said Meyers-Martin.

If enacted, the law would simply give IDOT the authority to create a noise suppression program as defined by the federal highway procedures for abatement of traffic noise.

Senate Bill 3175 would allow for alteration of horizontal and vertical alignments and it would allow for acquisition of property rights for construction of noise barriers.

“If you could briefly describe what a Type II Noise Suppression Program would be,” Windhorst asked.

Meyers-Martin explained how IDOT could use the Type II program to suppress noise.

“This would allow the Department of Transportation to address traffic management measures, traffic control devices, time use restrictions for certain vehicle types, construction of noise barriers and noise installation for public-use or nonprofit structures,” said Meyers-Martin.

Meyers-Martin said she didn’t anticipate the $200 million would be appropriated this fiscal year to the program, but she said IDOT has the ability to make that decision as it begins to implement the noise suppression program.

There were 33 Illinois House lawmakers who voted against the measure.