TINLEY PARK | Gov. Pat Quinn declared himself an ally of Chicago's south suburbs Monday, offering municipalities road repair funds while also reiterating his support for the Illiana Expressway project.
Quinn appeared before the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce to tout the expressway to connect Interstate 65 near Lowell to Interstate 55 near Wilmington.
Last week, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning rejected including the Illiana in its long-term plan. A more critical vote by CMAP's Metropolitan Planning Organization arm is set Thursday.
"Our intention is to get a 'yes' vote," Quinn said. "We have to make this happen."
Some Chicago officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, are concerned money spent toward Illiana construction would come from funds that otherwise could be spent on maintenance of Chicago-area roads.
Quinn said he thinks Emanuel is wrong about the project.
The governor said Illinois ought to be supporting each other on projects to benefit the state.
"Chicago benefits when we all work together," he said.
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Quinn cited the potential for an Illiana Expressway to provide access to a proposed Peotone airport, saying the project made significant progress in recent months with the acquisition of many plots of land in the area between Peotone, Monee and Beecher.
"This is not a pie in the sky idea," Quinn said. "This is important."
Quinn has long been a supporter of the Illiana and third airport projects, saying they would help the south suburbs achieve their full potential.
"Some may think 'nowhereland' when they see the south suburbs, but I'm a true believer in the south and the southland," Quinn said.
To that end, Quinn announced $3.4 million in capital investment funds to be used by communities for local projects.
Money was distributed to communities ranging from $169,673 to Calumet City, $142,336 to Chicago Heights and $123,037 to Lansing down to $18,109 for Burnham, $15,009 for Ford Heights and $11,213 for Thornton.
Other municipalities receiving funds include Dolton ($111,233), Flossmoor ($40,391), Glenwood ($39,084), Harvey ($130,280), Homewood ($84,869), Lynwood ($39,801), Riverdale ($65,379), Sauk Village ($45,212), South Chicago Heights ($17,240), South Holland ($96,177) and Steger ($42,033).