CHICAGO - The Illinois General Assembly passed a resolution last week authorizing an estimated $2.4 billion extension of two highways in the northeastern part of the state.
The road projects will be financed with bonds issued by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, according to Robert Hickman, the authority's executive director. The bonds will be backed by toll revenues.
Hickman said the authority will undertake an 18-month to 24-month study to plan the construction. He said the authority should have a tentative financing plan later this week.
The resolution calls for extending the North-south Tollway 28.5 miles south at an estimated cost of $1 billion. It also calls for extending Highway 53, which is 42 miles north to the Wisconsin border, at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion.
The House passed the resolution Thursday night, and the Senate approved it Friday. A spokesman for Gov. Jim Edgar said the governor is not required to sign the resolution for it to take effect.
The resolution was one element of a tentative agreement on the state's fiscal 1994 budget struck between legislative leaders and Edgar a week ago. House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, dropped his usual demand that the authority take over the Chicago-Calumet Skyway in exchange for the highway extensions. The skyway defaulted on $101 million of revenue bonds in 1963.
Illinois began fiscal 1994 on Thursday without an approved budget, despite the tentative pact. The House, which passed two other elements of the agreement Wednesday, adjourned Friday afternoon and is due back tomorrow.