ELIZABETH, ILL. – At the Apple River Fort, directly off Route 20, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $20 million has been earmarked in the state’s next fiscal year budget to continue efforts to widen U.S. Route 20 – Glacier Shadow Pass -- in northwestern Illinois to four lanes from Freeport to Galena.
“In putting together the state budget, a lot of hard choices had to be made, a lot of worthwhile projects just didn’t make the cut,” Blagojevich said. “But we need to move forward to make U.S. 20 between Freeport and Galena a safer highway and an asset that can improve the economy and quality of life for the people of northwestern Illinois.”
During Fiscal Year 2004, which begins July 1, $20 million has been budgeted for work on the U.S. 20 Galena and Freeport bypasses. A total of $5 million will be spent to design the Galena bypass from Illinois 84 to Mount Hope Road and $15.6 million will be for grading, a new bridge, interchange reconfiguration, acquiring land and utility adjustments on the Freeport bypass from Illinois 26 to just west of Springfield Road.
The entire U.S. 20 project covers nearly 50 miles from just west of Freeport to just north of Galena and is the remaining two-lane gap in the Glacier Shadow Pass that extends from Rockford to Waterloo, Iowa.
“It is a large undertaking, one that will take years and several hundreds of millions of dollars to complete,” Blagojevich said. “That’s why it’s necessary to keep moving forward and completing portions as funding allows.”
Congress is considering a new transportation funding bill and Blagojevich said his administration is working hard with the state’s congressional delegation to make sure the state gets it's fair share, including money for projects like U.S. 20. For the past five years, Illinois has received only 92 cents for every dollar contributed to the national highway trust fund.
“That’s just not right and we are going to work to change that,” the governor said.
Over the past 20 years, U.S. 20 traffic has doubled as more people discover and take advantage of tourism and recreational opportunities in the area leading to concerns about safety. Between 1997 and 1999, there have been 644 crashes, resulting in 268 injuries and 10 deaths along the roadway. In addition, 73 percent of the existing route alignment does not meet state design standards for rural highways.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has prepared design and location reports and the Environmental Impact Statement for the Freeport to Galena stretch of the project. The Federal Highway Administration has accepted IDOT’s draft Environmental Impact Statement, and IDOT will seek public input on the plans at public hearings today and tomorrow.
Today’s public hearing is from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Highland Community College in Freeport and tomorrow’s will be at the Galena Convention Center in Galena.