JOLIET | The Will County Board this week voted for a route for the proposed Illiana Expressway with its western terminus near Wilmington along Interstate 55.
The County Board voted 23-0, with one board member abstaining, on Thursday in favor of a resolution that says it prefers the B-3 route that is one of three under consideration by the Illinois and Indiana officials who are developing the Illiana Expressway, said Nathan Brown, a spokesman for Will County.
But before casting that vote, County Board members decided to amend it slightly so that the Illiana’s western edge would be slightly north of Wilmington, rather than in Wilmington proper.
County Board member Katrina Deutsche, D-Crete, was the abstaining vote, saying she owns land in Will County that may wind up being in the Illiana Expressway path, Brown said.
Brown said that board members wanted to reduce the number of homes that would be impacted by the highway’s eventual construction.
“They made it known that they want to protect people from losing their homes,” Brown said, adding that the County Board also included a provision saying they opposed allowing either state use of “quick take” powers to gain control of land from homeowners.
Altering the route in the way desired by the Will County Board would push the Illiana route into land that is part of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which at 19,000 acres is the largest piece of contiguous open space in the northeastern part of Illinois. It is the former site of the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant converted into a national park.
Brown said Will County officials are aware that both federal and Illinois state governments will have to pass measures of their own to permit use of any of the land within the prairie.
“That is preferred to impacting homes” in Wilmington, he said.
State transportation officials in Illinois and Indiana are accepting comments from the public through Aug. 29 that will be incorporated into a report, and Illinois officials have said that an actual route will be chosen sometime in September or October.
After that will be an 18- to 24-month period during which officials will acquire the land needed for the Illiana Expressway.