Road construction projects to shut down without state budget, meaning horrible traffic

Traffic in and around Chicago is bad enough during the so-called construction season. But imagine how snarled it would be if the current projects, like the Jane Byrne Interchange makeover, just shut down.

And not just one project, but what if all of the state's road construction projects shut down at the same time. I-DOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says that could happen soon if the state can't pass a budget. 

"If we don't have a budget, bad things happen. This is a bad thing that touches them every day,” he said.

And by 'them', Blankenhorn means you. The bad thing he is referring to is a 'shut-down' of all of the state's 800 road construction projects on July 1st.

"Come June 30, if we don't have a budget, we have to stop that work. We don't have the ability to pay contractors, and they don't have the ability to pay their workers,” he said.

So now, I-DOT is hoping Governor Rauner's stop gap budget gets approved so road work can continue. If it's not, and the June 30th deadline arrives, road construction on massive projects like the Jane Byrne interchange and the I-55 Lake Shore Drive projects will shut down. Not immediately, but in a matter of weeks after July 1st.

But a shutdown means more than just a traffic nightmare.

"They delay the project’s cost in money, the money is cost to make systems safe, and the total number of workers who will be out of a job,” Blankenhorn said.

Longer traffic delays, more tax dollars spent, and loss of jobs: Blankenhorn says it could happen if a budget isn't approved.

"Transportation impacts every single person,” he said. "Nobody likes when we are in construction, they like when we are done. This will make that pain last even longer."

Some of the biggest projects around Chicago are already scheduled to last through 2018. This delay, if it happens, could add years to the gridlock.