Audit finds IDOT dollars not going to roads

Published 06/24 2013 05:33PM

Updated 06/25 2013 11:10AM

SPRINGFIELD -- A recent audit shows roads around Illinois are getting worse even though IDOT is spending more money than ever. The audit points to sloppy bookkeeping.

Money which should be going to roads is actually paying down other administrative costs instead. Recent audits show over the last two years, IDOT spent $700 million more than before, while one in seven roads need work. By 2018, experts say at this pace, one in three roads will be unacceptable to drive on.

"That's of concern to people for a variety of reasons," says John Henriksen of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition. "The worse road conditions are, the more car repairs you'll need to have, the more accidents there are going to be, the more delays there is going to be with freight. These are all costs that are invisible to people."

The problem is IDOT spent less than half of its 2012 budget to fix roads. Instead, the money went to things like overtime which no one double-checked, and last-minute contracts, which cost a lot more than if they were bid on.

IDOT says it's short staffed and doesn't have the resources to make sure the money always goes where it's supposed to. But experts say if things don't change, the state's roadways will be headed for a crisis.

"If you don't look at things in a long term way, you don't take care of things now, you run into huge problems down the road," Henriksen says.

IDOT says it's working on fixing all of the problems found in the audit. But it says that's not why roads are getting worse. It says it's because fixing bridges is on the top of the to-do list, not roads.

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