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Infrastructure Facts

According to the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, we have a number of infrastructure problems in our nation. The quality of our infrastructure in Illinois is horrendous. Luckily, we do not have a failing grade, but our infrastructure is embarrassing. In every category, Illinois scores in the C-D range, as detailed below:

Illinois Infrastructure[1]

  • Aviation: C+
  • Bridges: C
  • Dams: C
  • Drinking Water: C-
  • Navigable Waterways: D-
  • Ports: C-
  • Rail: C+
  • Roads: D
  • Transit: D
  • Wastewater: C-
  • Grade Point Average (overall grade): C-

What the grades mean:

A: Exceptional, Fit for the Future

B: Good, Adequate for Now

C: Mediocre, Requires Attention

D: Poor, At Risk

F: Failing/Critical, Unfit for Purpose


Illinois: C+

National[2]: D

Illinois’ airports transport more than 48.5 million passengers and 5.2 million tons of cargo each year. We have 115 public use airports (77 are publicly owned and eligible to receive public funding). Commercial service is provided at 12 of Illinois’ airports, with Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports providing 97.5% of the commercial service. Continued growth in passenger activity, aircraft operations, and cargo volumes are forecast to continue. Runway pavement quality is one of the biggest factors in the C+ grade Illinois receives. Runway pavement quality needs improvement, but that is even more urgent considering the expected growth.


Illinois: C

National: C+

Illinois has the third largest bridge inventory in the nation. Of Illinois’ 26,775 bridges, 8.6% (2,303 bridges) are “structurally deficient”. There are an average of 9 million trips made across Illinois’ “structurally deficient” bridges each DAY. IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) has planned to spend $2.6 billion in bridge maintenance over the next 5 years, far less than the estimated $10 billion needed to repair these bridges. It is anticipated that an additional 1,177 bridges will be classified as “structurally deficient” within the next 4 years (2023).


Illinois: C

National: D

Illinois is home to 1,824 state-regulated dams, with 50% of them over 50 years old. By 2021, nearly 80% of our dams will be over 50 years old.

Drinking Water

Illinois: C-

National: D

Illinois has 1,740 Community Water Supply systems that supply drinking water to more than 12 million people. Many of those systems are over 70 years old. Since their construction, the daily need per household has gone from 5 gallons to 100 gallons. This overloads our already aged system, causing water main breaks. The City of Chicago is involved in a 10-year plan to replace hundreds of miles of pipes and water mains, but the rest of the state needs approximately $19.7 billion over the next 20 years to replace aging pipes and water mains.

Navigable Waterways

Illinois: D-

National: D

Illinois is ranked eighth among the states in total tonnage of waterborne freight and ranked third in domestic tonnage, with 94 million tons of freight shipped annually. Many of our locks have exceeded their 50-year design. Due to insufficient federal funding, the locks are wearing out faster than the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers can repair them, operating under a fix-as-fail strategy. Since they can fail without warning, no advance notice can be given to shippers or carriers, resulting in a loss of $1.5 billion in transportation costs and $2 billion in farm-based income losses per year. Our farmers cannot absorb that cost. It is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that these locks are repaired BEFORE they fail. Spending money now prevents billions in loss each year. Almost $13 billion will be needed by 2020, but only $7 billion has been invested through 2020, with a shortfall of $5 billion needed.


Illinois: C-

National: C+

Illinois ranks 8th in U.S. waterborne traffic (2015). Illinois has 19 public port districts and more than 350 private terminals along Lake Michigan and our rivers, with a revenue impact of $6.4 billion and over 48,000 jobs. They move more than $81 billion of manufactured goods, $37 billion in agriculture products, and $18 billion in chemical products. They receive no State funding and must compete for limited federal funds. Future freight needs are estimated to double within 20 years.


Illinois: C+

National: B

Illinois is the only state where all seven Class One freight railroads operate. Our 7,000-mile-long track network is the second largest in the nation. We have 500 freight trains with 37,000 cars pass through Chicago daily. We have 700 passenger and commuter trains carrying 329,000 passengers through Chicago daily. More carloads of freights flow through Illinois than any other state, with nearly ¼ of America’s rail shipped goods and services flow through Chicago. $17.5 billion of investments to Illinois’ railway infrastructure are needed to accommodate the expected growth over the next 30 years.


Illinois: D

National: D

Illinois is ranked third in the nation for interstate miles, with more than 145,700 miles of roadway. However, our roadways were ranked third WORST nationally for traffic delays, excess fuel consumption, truck congestion cost, and total congestion cost. Illinois residents are paying $4.8 billion per year in extra vehicle repairs ($566 per motorist) due to roads in dire need of repair.


Illinois: D

National: D-

96 of our 102 counties offer transit services, with 63 public transit operators and providers providing 736 million trips per year. The transit systems that service the Chicagoland area require $2 – 3 billion per year to reach and maintain good repair, modernization, enhancement, and expansion. The 10-year estimate of reinvestment added to the backlog of capital project in the Chicago region rose to $37 billion in 2016.


Illinois: C-

National: D+

Over 800 wastewater treatment facilities serve 12.8 million Illinois residents. During intense rain storms, combined sewer overflows discharge sewage directly into rivers and lakes. We need $6.5 billion to meet the water quality and public health goals of the Clean Water Act.


[1] Infrastructure Report Card, “Report Card for Illinois Infrastructure”, Illinois Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers,, accessed December 19, 2018.

[2] Infrastructure Report Card, “2017 Infrastructure Grades”, American Society of Civil Engineers,, accessed February 1, 2019.