Illiana Expressway developing specifics, except for toll cost

2014-02-19T21:30:00Z 2014-02-19T21:41:24Z Illiana Expressway developing specifics, except for toll costGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
February 19, 2014 9:30 pm  • 

WILMINGTON, Ill. | The proposed Illiana Expressway’s details are becoming more clear these days as officials from Illinois and Indiana show the proposed route – and how it will interact with surrounding roads and area wildlife.

Plans on display Wednesday at the Local 150 Training Facilities in Wilmington showed the route, along with what roads would intersect with it.

“This thing is starting to become a little too real,” Sharon Osgood, of Elwood, said. She said she does not like the idea of the Illiana being built. “I had hoped it would get caught up in bureaucracy and never happen, but now it looks like it might.”

Maps showed local roads that would cross the Illiana either as a bridge or underpass -- and others that would be cut off near the expressway.

Steve Schilke, a project manager for the Illinois Transportation Department, said studies and consultations in the past year determined roads which had  justification to continue to exist.

In the eastern part of Will County near to the state border, Crawford Avenue, Western Avenue, Stony Island Avenue and Klemme Road will be closed to traffic as they approach the Illiana road.

Meanwhile, Kedzie Avenue, Yates Avenue and Cottage Grove Avenue will remain open, with the local traffic passing under the Illiana.

South of Beecher, Ill. 1 -- known in parts as Halsted Street -- will be the site of a major interchange with the Illiana.

The Illiana will stretch from Interstate 65 near Lowell to Interstate 55 just west of Wilmington.

Illiana maps made available this week also showed locations for proposed passages that will allow wildlife in the area to be able to move about underneath the Illiana, rather than trying to cross the road.

Much of the passages under consideration are at the proposed road’s western end, although one such passage is just west of Stony island Avenue.

“They tend to follow trails, and we took those into account when designing these passages,” Schilke said.

Schilke, along with Indiana Department of Transportation project manager Jim Earl, spoke of the economic benefits of an Illiana Expressway.

The only detail they would not provide Wednesday was what some people considered to be the key question – How much will the tolls be on the Illiana?

Schilke and Earl said the two state legislatures will decide that matter, although they said the toll would be identical.

"It would not make sense for there to be differing fare plans,” Earl said. “We have to be in agreement with each other.”

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