Illinois roads and bridge deterioration ranked among worst in US, report says

Illinois Interstate Highway Systems rank among the worst levels of bridge and road pavement deterioration in the nation, according to a report released Tuesday.

"Illinois is a hub in our nation’s transportation network," Todd Maisch, CEO of the Illinois Chamber said. "The report clearly shows a decline in the condition of US roadways and bridges and the need for prioritization of this issue on both the state and federal levels."

The report from TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit, ranks states whose interstate systems are the most congested, busiest and have the most pavement and bridges in poor condition. 

Eight percent of Illinois’ interstate bridges are rated in poor condition, the third highest share in the U.S., according to the report. Pavements on four percent of Illinois’ interstate highways are in poor condition, the 16th highest in the nation. 

As the U.S. Interstate Highway System turns 65, it is in need of reconstruction, according to the report. Data for all states can be found in the Appendix.

The report concludes that annual investment in the highway system should be increased from $23 billion in 2018 to $57 billion annually over the next 20 years, according to the report. Data for all states can be found in the Appendix.

"Our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure is a clear and present danger to our nation’s supply chain. Breakdowns in the Interstate Highway System add an annual $75 billion to the cost of freight transportation, and 67 million tons of excess carbon dioxide emissions are released into the atmosphere every year from trucks stuck in traffic congestion," Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations said. 


In Illinois, 36 percent of urban Interstate highways are considered congested during peak hours, the report says. Vehicle travel on Illinois’ interstates increased 17 percent from 2000 to 2019.

Since 2000, travel on the U.S. interstate system, which has been heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, has increased at a rate nearly triple that at which lanes are being added, according to the report. Due to COVID-19, travel on U.S. highways dropped 45 percent in April 2020 (compared to April 2019) but rebounded to six percent below April 2019 levels by April 2021.

However, the design of the interstate – which includes a separation from other roads and rail lines, a minimum of four lanes, paved shoulders and median barriers – makes Illinois' interstates nearly three times as safe to travel on as all other roadways, according to the report.

The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on Illinois’ interstate in 2019 was 0.44, compared to 1.17 on the state’s non-interstate routes. TRIP estimates that additional safety features on Illinois’ Interstate Highway System saved 267 lives in 2019.

Upgrading the Interstate Highway System will require significant funding, federal leadership and federal-state partnerships, the report says. Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST Act), the primary source of Interstate highway funding, expired on September 30 and was extended by one year by Congress to Sept. 30, 2021.