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 Illinois has a challenge in transportation, namely rising costs while traffic remains relatively flat.

The end result is funding not increasing, presenting a challenge on how to fund the upkeep of the roads.

That may be the most important part of the Illinois Long Range Transportation Plan, although it also includes air, water and rail. 

The plan looks at funding for 2,400 miles of state-maintained roads and replacing or rehabilitating 707 bridges.

"There are those quantitative numbers in the plan to show the magnitude that Illinois has to deal with," said Gena McCullough, planning director for the Bi-State Regional Commission, who gave an overview of the plan at the Metropolitan Planning Area Transportation Technical Committee meeting Tuesday.

"If we are relying on gas tax, there are things that to be sustainable Illinois will need to do to continue to improve and sustain from a stewardship perspective to the system," she said. "For example, they propose 11 potential strategies for increasing revenues and managing costs."

The idea is to get people in the mindset of discussing the issue, McCullough said. Potential strategies include raising the federal motor fuel tax, indexing it to inflation, capturing sales tax on motor fuels, increasing or restructure vehicle license fees and strategically pursuing federal grants.

New funding models could include mileage-based user fees, promoting value-capture financing among local governments and introducing express toll lanes to better manage congestion.

Also being considered are innovative financing approaches, such as leveraging federal financing programs to attract private investment, passing design-build legislation and pursing public-private partnerships.

The final three ideas are designed to enhance asset-management practices, allocate transportation funding based on project need and foster projects that support the Illinois economy.

Although some of the solutions have been discussed for a while, she said it will take "a number of years to get these conversations going and look for solutions.

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