Taxpayers To Pick Up Tab For Governor’s Driveway
New Heated Driveway Will Cost $720,000

(CBS) SPRINGFIELD CBS 2 News has learned that a new, heated driveway is going in at the governor’s mansion in Springfield, even though he doesn’t stay there much.

The cost? $720,000.

One of Gov. Blagojevich’s opponents says it’s a rip-off and is calling for a halt to the project.

The sign says “Danger – Watch your step.” But it should read: “Illinois Taxpayers, Watch Your Wallets,” according to Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Rauschenberger.

“It bothers me because it’s hard to justify $700,000 for that driveway,” he said. “It’ll be financed on 25 year bonds, so it means that Amy Blagojevich, who I think is six years old, will be 31 years old when she pays off the last payment on her dad’s new driveway.”

A road builder we spoke to laughed at the project’s cost, saying that for the same price, the governor could have either built a mile of concrete highway or more than three miles of asphalt road.

A Chicago area firm that installs the heating mechanism quoted us a price of $30,000 for a 100-yard driveway. The actual contractor – R.D. Lawrence of Springfield – is billing the taxpayers half a million just for the heating mechanism.

A spokeswoman for the governor defended the project, describing it as an emergency because holes were developing in the old asphalt, endangering tourists. The rules said only three bids were needed, all from Springfield firms.

The spokeswoman said even she was shocked by the price, but said the governor is moving forward with the driveway.

“Change your mind,” Rauchenberger said. “Don’t make my kids pay for your driveway. Don’t make Amy pay for your driveway.”

We wanted to speak with Gov. Blagojevich, but he wasn’t available, nor was his spokeswoman.

Rauschenberger said that because the state is borrowing to pay for the driveway, the final cost after interest will be close to $1.25 million. Stay tuned.

(© MMV, CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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