HOBART | The Illiana Corridor Planning Group has narrowed its list of possible routes for the two-state expressway to four, which the group unveiled Wednesday at Avalon Manor.
Of the four proposed routes, the group has preliminary recommended a route that would connect Interstate 65 in Indiana, running between Cedar Lake and Lowell, to Interstate 55 in Illinois, running between Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and Wilmington.
The planning group said this route would offer the lowest potential cost, lowest potential funding gap, lowest environmental impacts, highest multipurpose corridor compatibility and most local support.
The favored route will move forward as the finalist, with December as the "no-turning-back date."
The planning group said there is a tremendous amount of growth potential in the Indiana area with the preferred route.
Next steps in the process will include refining the corridor, identifying interchange locations, coordination with local officials for public safety issues, drafting an environmental impact statement and coordination of local land use.
The group said a financial plan will be prepared in the next tier of the process.
A realistic start for construction would be 2015, group representatives said.
Of the three other routes still being considered but not recommended by the planning group, two end north of the preferred route on Interstate 65. The other alternative is at the same location as the preferred route, but veers farther north on its connection to Interstate 55.
Several other possible corridors have not been carried forward due to conclusions showing poor travel conditions and building impacts.
A public meeting on the proposed routes will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 22 at Crown Point High School, 1500 S. Main St. A second meeting will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Matteson Hotel and Conference Center, 500 Holiday Plaza Drive, Matteson, Ill.