Carterville construction continues with last-minute funding

Construction projects that were hours away from being shut down throughout the state are up and running smoothly Friday after Illinois lawmakers appropriated funding Thursday afternoon, the last day of the fiscal year.

Driving through the construction along Highway 13 in Carterville can be hectic and unavoidable. Debbie Johnson says she drivers through it regularly.

"Almost every single day, because my mother-in-law lives on Parkway," said Johnson.

But Thursday, the E.T. Simonds crew working to expand the major highway was in the same boat as thousands of others around Illinois. The workers just didn’t know if they’d have jobs the next day.

"When we went home last night, we didn’t know whether we’d be back today or not," said Lonnie Dutton, the carpenter foreman for E.T. Simonds Construction.

"We all worried about it, because we all need a paycheck every week," said Terry Sexton, a laborer for the construction company.

Lawmakers appropriated $2 billion Thursday for construction projects, saving 25,000 construction jobs from being cut including the crew working to expand Highway 13.

"I found out this morning, and they told me to come to work," Sexton said.

"We’re all really glad we’re back," Dutton said.

Drivers say they’re actually looking forward to seeing more construction in their rear view mirror. They say without the budget getting in the way, they’re hoping projects can be finished sooner, so they can get back to hitting the road.

"You know, to me it’s not frustrating. It’s a part of progress. So I am glad that they get to keep working, because that way there will be an end in sight," Johnson said.

She says funding road construction means better roads and a safer drive for her family.

Lawmakers also approved stopgap funding for higher education as well as human and essential services. They also passed a full K-12 budget so schools can open on time.

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