Illiana Expressway impacts spotlighted

2014-01-27T08:30:00Z 2014-01-27T18:29:08Z Illiana Expressway impacts spotlightedBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

The bi-state Illiana Corridor Planning Group has released its most detailed look yet at land impacts, job creation and tolling for the 47-mile Illiana Expressway.

Building the road could create 14,210 jobs, impact 3,094 acres of farmland, and slightly reduce some air pollution, according to the Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Statement released by the group on Friday.

In addition, its findings maintain even with a toll as high as $10.90 for a car running the length of the expressway, about 20,000 vehicles per year would use it by the year 2040.

The voluminous study, which describes those and hundreds of others facets of the planned expressway, will be the subject of two public hearings in February.

The first will be from 5 to 8 p.m., Feb. 18, at Lowell Middle School, 19250 Cline Avenue.

The second will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 19, at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 training facility, 19800 West Arsenal Road, Wilmington, Ill.

In addition to the public hearing, land acquisition specialists from both states will also be there to talk to landowners.

The public comment period on the Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Study will last until March 10. Copies of the study are available online, at state department of transportation offices and local libraries along the route.

The Illiana Corridor Planning Group that conducted the study is composed of staff from the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Transportation and consultants.

Some facets of the road such as its impact to farm acreage have been well-known for some time. But other facets, such as toll sensitivity studies, have not been published in such detail before.

A base model toll of 23 cents per mile for cars and 53 cents per mile for trucks was used in the study. Even tolls that high would still maintain a traffic flow of about 20,000 vehicles per day by 2040, according to the analysis.

That works out to about $10.90 for a car running the length of the expressway and $25.10 for a truck. A multi-unit truck would pay about $37.40 for the same trip. By comparison, a car running the 157-mile length of the Indiana Toll Road currently pays $9.70.

The study cautions that its toll analysis “should not be construed” to represent the results of a financial analysis now being done for the public private-partnership effort.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has already picked four finalist investor teams to compete for the public-private partnership to design, build and operate the expressway. The Indiana Department of Transportation is in the process of selecting its finalists.

Both states hope the final investor team or teams selected can help provide some of the upfront money for building the $1.3 billion road in exchange for yearly payments from the states once its up and running.

On the hotly debated topic of jobs created by the new road, the study found by 2040 there will be 14,210 more jobs created in the region if it is built in comparison to what would exist if it were not there.

The Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Study will be finalized after the February public hearings and then submitted for federal approval.

That approval could come as soon as late spring, according to the statement released Friday.

Both states have maintained road construction could start as soon as 2015.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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