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State Stix

Planes, trains and automobiles . . .

Ready for take off

Midway Airlines, headquartered at Chicago's Midway Field, set records for January 1990. Their planes carried 507,723 passengers during the month, an increase of 28.7 percent over January 1989. Midway and its subsidiary, the Midway Commuter, serve 60 destinations in the United States, Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.

Source: Midway Airlines.

Flying a different way

The new Schaumburg Municipal Helistop formally opened on December 14, 1989, with Gov. James R. Thompson's presentation of its official state certificate. No million-dollar third airport, the helistop is 100 feet by 115 feet with auto and helicopter parking. Located 26 miles northwest of downtown Chicago at the junction of the Northwest Tollway (Interstate 90) and Interstate 290, the facility is an entry level helistop designed so that lights and a concrete surface can be added later. The entire project including fill, sod and landscaping cost less than $25,000 and was paid totally by the village of Schaumburg.

Source: Office of the Governor.

Working on the railroad

The east-west line of the bankrupt Chicago, Missouri and Western (CM&W) Railroad was sold to Gateway Western Railway Co., head-quartered in the East St. Louis area. The sale maintains rail freight service to Jacksonville and portions of southwestern Illinois and will save 150 jobs associated with the line. The rail line extends from East St. Louis to near Jacksonville where it joins the railroad's east-west main line from Springfield in Illinois to Kansas City in Missouri.

The Illinois Department of Transportation, as a part of the negotiations, agreed to provide more than $4 million for upgrading the east-west rail line in Illinois. The state has agreed to provide $36 million in low-interest loans for continuously welded rail in efforts to improve rail passenger service between Chicago and St. Louis.

Source: Same as above.

Railing to the Quad Cities

The Iowa Association of Railroad Passengers and the Illinois Association of Railroad Passengers discussed the possibility of Amtrak service to the Quad Cities (Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline, Rock Island) in a joint meeting October 14. The discussion focused on the conclusion of an Illinois Department of Transportation task force study: The Quad Cities-Chicago route has the best potential for ridership and cost recovery of any new rail route in the state. A local volunteer group called Q-C Rail has been formed to push for the new rail service. In addition to the usual demand for rail service, developers are proposing an investment of over $100 million in new facilities in the Quad Cities with expectations of a tourism boom now that both Illinois and Iowa have legalized riverboat gambling. The Quad Cities is the premier potential port for the riverboat casinos, but tourists and gamblers currently have access to the area only by air, auto or bus.

Source: The Illinois Association of Railroad Passengers.

Ding, ding, ding goes the trolley

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was in Washington, D.C., lobbying for federal funds for the proposed trolley system that would connect Chicago's commuter rail and rapid transit lines with the densest and fastest growing parts of the city's downtown area. Congress has already approved $1 million for preliminary planning, but Daley wants $17 million more. The new money, with $20 million granted from the Illinois legislature, would be used to complete engineering and design studies so that construction could begin in 1993. The overall construction cost of the project is estimated at up to $600 million.

The network of electric trolleys would circle the greater Loop with connections to such points as North Michigan Avenue and Navy Pier. A future proposed extension to the lakefront museums and McCormick Place dovetails another proposal: a major expansion of the McCormick convention center that includes a domed stadium.

Source; Chicago Tribune, February 9, 1990.

The Loop needs auto relief

The number of people working in Chicago's greater Loop has almost doubled in the last 20 years, causing horrendous traffic and parking problems. They are bound to get worse. Six new office buildings are scheduled to open in 1990, several new North Loop towers will be ready for occupancy in 1991, and retail space is expected to grow one-third by the end of 1992. Projects are planned for Navy Pier and the railroad yards south of Grant Park, and the biggest urban development project in the nation's history is along the lakefront north of the Chicago River.

Source: Same as above.

Drivers need insurance

Auto insurance is now mandatory in Illinois, and a survey by the Illinois Department of Insurance found that Illinois automobile insurance premiums are lower than the average when compared with premiums in 15 other states. A 35-year-old male who drives less than 15,000 miles annually and lives in Springfield had a 1988 composite premium of $707.80 - $214.87 below the average for the same driver in 15 comparable cities in other states. The composite site premium for the same driver in Chicago was $1,683.85 or $170.08 lower than the average for nine other similar metropolitan areas.

Source: Illinois Department of Insurance.

General funds

The general funds balance at the end of January was $221.495 million. The average daily available balance was $340.901 million.

Source: Office of the Comptroller.

Unemployment rate

In January the nationally seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3 percent. Illinois' seasonally adjusted rate rose to 6.4 percent from 6.3 percent in December.

There were 6.064 million people in the state's labor force in January; 5.673 million had jobs, a record for the month, and 391,000 were unemployed 14,000 more than in December. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finished revising all Illinois labor force data for 1988-89.

Employment was up for tax preparers, travel agencies and inventory clerks. Retail trade, services and government employment was down. There were short-term layoffs in manufacturing, but most workers were soon recalled. All sectors of the Illinois economy showed over-the-year growth except trade. Manufacturing employment was up for the 34th consecutive month. With 977,000 jobs it was at its highest January level since 1985.

Final unemployment rates in the state's rnetro areas in November were:

Aurora-Elgin: 5.9 percent.

Bloomington-Normal: 4.6 percent.

Champaign-Urbana-Rantoul: 3.9 percent.

Chicago, 5.9 percent.

Davenport, Rock Island, Moline (Illinois sector), 7.5 percent

Decatur, 7.2 percent.

Joliet: 7.5 percent.

Kankakee, 8.0 percent.

Lake County, 4.7 percent.

Peoria, 6.1 percent.

Rockford, 6.7 percent.

Springfield, 4.9 percent.

St. Louis (Illinois sector), 6.7 percent

Source: Department of Employment Security.

Thomas E. Morris

6/March 1990/Illinois Issues

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