From AP - News Headlines -

Public Forum in Champaign Gathers Input for Capital Construction Bill

Officials from the Champaign-Urbana area presented a long wish list Monday night, at a public forum held to hear ideas for spending money from a capital construction bill --- if state lawmakers ever pass one.

The forum in Champaign was organized by Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee Chairman Jack Bradley. The Marion Democrat is holding forums across the state to find out specific local capital needs.

The transportation project most mentioned last night was Olympian Drive. Only about a mile of the north-side link between I-57 and U-S Route 45 has been built. Champaign Regional Planning Commission CEO Cameron Moore says businesses that moved into the north end of Champaign-Urbana were expecting Olympian Drive to be completed. "The fact that it hasn't been built", says Moore, "is having an impact on their ability to continue to operate efficiently. I also believe that businesses that are interested in coming into the area typically like to locate in growth corridors --- which this is. And being able to complete this significant arterial roadway would simply open up more opportunities for development in the area."

Moore says they're seeking five million in state funding for the 27-million dollar Olympian Drive project. They hope federal funding will take care of the rest.

Illinois lawmakers last approved a capital construction bill in 1999, and Bradley says a new capital bill is long overdue. He's proposed raising the Illinois Motor Fuel tax to fund the transportation component of any capital bill. Some who spoke at the Champaign hearing raised concerns that money would be diverted out of that tax revenue stream to non-transportation projects. Bradley says that could be avoided by additional language in the bill, and by sending the money to the state's Construction Account. He says diversions from that account are not possible.