With its bond cupboard bare, the Regional Transportation Authority in Northeastern Illinois is mulling a request to the General Assembly for new bond authorization for mass transit projects.

"We will need to mount an effort in Springfield in the coming months," said Dave Thompson, an authority spokesman.

Neither he nor Rick Ollett, the authority's chief financial officer, would estimate how much bonding authority would be requested for capital expenditures. However, they said $6 billion to $8 billion is needed to get the mass transit, commuter train, and suburban Chicago bus system in the six-county region into good operating condition by 2000.

Last month, the authority used up the last of $1 billion of bonding authorization granted by the legislature in 1989 with a $192 million bond issue sold on a negotiated basis. While the 1989 law stipulated that any bonds issued after 1994 would have to be sold competitively, authority officials denied they were trying to beat the clock with a final negotiated sale.

Obtaining new bonding authorization could be more complicated than it was in 1989. Ollett said there is no room left to issue more debt backed by a special sales tax surcharge in the six-county region.

"We need to evaluate ways to pay off bonds, as well as additional bonding authority," he said.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.