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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2005

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES CRITICAL FARMERSVILLE ROAD UPGRADES TO SUPPORT CENTRAL ILLINOIS COAL INDUSTRY

CHICAGO – Continuing to deliver on his Opportunity Returns commitment to support business growth and improve critical infrastructure in Central Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced nearly $290,000 in funding to support repair of the Farmersville Overpass in northern Montgomery County.  The state’s funding will allow normal trucking operations that are necessary for the local coal industry, instead of limiting the size and weight of trucks hauling coal from the region’s coal mines. 
 
“Business and industry know that Illinois has the best infrastructure in the nation, and it is important to make infrastructure investments like these that respond to critical local needs.  The coal industry is crucial to this area of Central Illinois, and this investment is necessary to keeping these businesses competitive and strong, which is what Opportunity Returns is all about,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
 
Coal trucks use the Farmersville Overpass extensively while traveling to and from Macoupin County mines, and this heavy traffic has accelerated the deterioration of the road’s pavement.  Unfortunately, the county has been unable to maintain this portion of roadway due to limited funding and excessive needs.  Montgomery County requested funding for the overlay and repair of this section through Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns program, and this project was listed as a critical need.  Construction will begin this spring. 
 
This $286,800 in Opportunity Returns support is funded through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).  Total cost to rehabilitate the Farmersville Overpass is estimated at nearly $360,000, with Montgomery County funding the rest of the project.
 
“This Opportunity Returns investment will go a long way to supporting the coal industry that drives so much of the economy in Macoupin County.  With Gov. Blagojevich’s support, we’re making important infrastructure investments to keep this industry strong, as well as improving this road for local residents,” State Senator Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville) said.
 
“This road project is one of the critical transportation needs of this region, and I’m pleased it made the list of high-priority Opportunity Returns projects,” said State Representative Gary Hannig (D-Gillespie).  “The local coal industry, their workers and people who travel this road are thankful for Gov. Blagojevich’s investment in our region.”
                                                                           
“Through Opportunity Returns, Gov. Blagojevich is making targeted, critical investments across Central Illinois that are paying important economic dividends.  These investments support business and improve the quality of life for local residents in this region and beyond,” DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.  “In this instance, we’re literally paving the way for a brighter future for the Illinois coal industry and for smoother roads for local residents.”
 
Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history.  Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges.  Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses.  It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs.  Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.


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