Illiana Expressway meeting will deal with interchanges, environment

2013-06-14T12:35:00Z 2013-06-17T20:17:11Z Illiana Expressway meeting will deal with interchanges, environmentBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

What could be the last public meeting before Illiana Expressway planners make final recommendations on the 47-mile toll road's exact route will take place starting at 5 p.m. at Lowell Middle School on Monday.

On Tuesday, a similar public meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Peotone High School, in Peotone, Ill.

Planners Monday will unveil refinements in the route, interchange locations, overpasses and environmental protections at the three-hour long open meeting, according to a joint statement from the Indiana and Illinois departments of transportation.

As the Illiana Corridor Planning Group's schedule stands now, it will be the last public meeting before a public hearing takes place in the fall on the group's final route and interchange recommendations. Comments taken at that hearing could lead to further modifications before the plan is submitted for final federal approval.

Monday's meeting also will take place just one week before hundreds of investment bankers and others are expected to attend a conference on the Illiana Expressway at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, in Rosemont, Ill. Both states want to drum up interest among private investors in the hope they will finance building the road in return for a cut of tolls once it's open.

Illiana Expressway planners estimate it could take $1.3 billion to build the toll road. Under the current planned route, the road would start at Interstate 65 just south of 153rd Avenue and head west between Lowell and Cedar Lake running all the way to Wilmington, Ill., where it would join Interstate 55.

At the last Indiana public meeting on the expressway two months ago, 300 people came to Lowell Middle School to hear about the latest developments and ask questions of transportation officials. Protest groups also were out in force gathering signatures against the proposed road.

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