- Associated Press - Friday, December 22, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Directors of Illinois’ toll highways have approved five more construction contracts totaling $20 million.

The Illinois Tollway board of directors’ action Thursday brings the year’s total to nearly $1 billion in construction and engineering contracts. The work has been awarded to 78 different contractors.

It’s part of the 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program.

Tollway Executive Director Greg Bedalov says the investment improves travel but added that it means “we are a driving force for increasing economic development opportunities in the diverse communities we serve.”

During the capital program’s first six years, the Illinois Tollway has obligated more than $5 billion. Officials say $1.5 billion of that has been committed to small, diverse and veteran-owned firms. They say the work has created and retained more than 56,000 jobs.

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