Open houses planned for next step of Illiana project

2013-03-29T23:15:00Z 2013-03-30T22:29:41Z Open houses planned for next step of Illiana projectBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
March 29, 2013 11:15 pm  • 

Public open houses are scheduled for next month in Peotone and Lowell as part of the second tier of a study of the proposed Illiana Corridor from Interstate 55 near Wilmington, Ill., to Interstate 65 near Cedar Lake.

The second tier of the study project shifts the focus from the original broad 952-square-mile study area to the communities, landowners and access needs along the preferred corridor, according to officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The work includes more detailed engineering and environmental studies and is expected to be completed in early 2014. Funding alternatives also will be considered, and both states have adopted public-private partnership legislation, which allows the Illiana study to use private investment for the financing, construction and operation of a transportation project.

The purpose of the upcoming open house meetings is to explain the second tier of the process, which includes refinement of the preferred corridor, interchange locations and layout, determining overpass and underpass opportunities, environmental analysis and continued stakeholder outreach.

The proposed 46.8-mile expressway will reduce the strain of truck traffic on local roads, improve safety, cut commuting times, reduce congestion and improve accessibility to jobs, according to state highway officials. Environmentally, it will help by reducing the number of travel hours and fuel wasted by limiting congestion.

IDOT and INDOT estimate the project will create or retain more than 9,000 construction jobs immediately and more than 25,000 long-term jobs.

Another important component of the current phase of the Illiana planning process will be a study of funding, financing and implementation options, including the feasibility of public-private partnerships, according to highway officials.

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