Use of local transportation user fees in northeastern Illinois

Municipalities across northeastern Illinois are responsible for more than 20,000 miles of roadway, accounting for nearly 70 percent of regionwide mileage. The region’s transportation infrastructure is key to economic prosperity. Residents and businesses must be able to rely on the transportation system to travel efficiently throughout the region, but much of the system’s infrastructure has suffered from inadequate ongoing investment. Ensuring investment in the maintenance and modernization of the system means prioritizing the region’s limited resources and identifying revenues to fund improvements.

Aerial shot of an intersection and vehicles waiting to cross.

In addition, continued investment at the local level will mean that local governments will need to develop innovative ways to fund improvements. Communities have several sources of revenue that they regularly use to operate and maintain roadways, including state motor fuel tax (MFT) revenues that are disbursed to municipalities based on their population. In addition, many municipalities have other sources, such as property or sales tax revenues. Yet many municipalities impose transportation user fees such as local MFTs or vehicle license fees, sometimes utilizing the funds generated for municipal transportation costs. Municipalities may move toward these sources when other federal, state, or local sources are insufficient to meet local road needs. This Policy update will explore the use of these sources in northeastern Illinois.