BOLINGBROOK – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich joined business and labor leaders and elected officials in one of the fastest growing counties in the country today to aggressively advocate for the passage of a $3.2 billion capital bill that would help build new roads and schools and improve mass transit throughout region. Northeast Illinois would receive roughly $1.5 billion in funding, including $67 million to expedite the widening of I-55 in Will County from Weber Road to I-80.
“There are roads and bridges and highways across Illinois that need to be built and need to be fixed. We need to build new schools and help commuters who rely on public transportation. These are things that need to be done. So we should do them. And if we do them, we will give people in Will County and all around Illinois the opportunity to go to work. 230,000 jobs all across Illinois. We cannot let partisan politics get in the way of progress. We must all work together in a constructive way to create more jobs throughout our state. So please, let’s pass this jobs bill. Let’s put even more people to work,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
In communities all across Illinois, critical construction projects could finally begin if the Governor’s $3.2 billion capital plan is approved, with an additional $3 billion coming in from the federal government for projects approved in the recent federal transportation bill.
Gov. Blagojevich has directed IDOT to make the widening of I-55 in Will County a top priority. Communities located along the stretch of I-55, including Channahon, Shorewood, Joliet, Plainfield, Romeoville, and Bolingbrook, have experienced rapid growth during recent years and this growth is expected to continue. Traffic volumes have doubled and in some cases tripled along this route since the mid 1980s. As a result, congestion and traffic delays are common, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours.
In addition, safety has become a major issue on this section of I-55. From 1998 through 2003, there were 1,800 crashes on I-55 between Weber Road and Interstate Route 80. About 40% of these were rear-end collisions, which indicates that the road is above-capacity. Of these crashes, 531 resulted in injury and 24 resulted in fatalities.
The proposed improvement would add an additional lane to I-55 in each direction, and a continuous barrier- median to address safety issues.
The Governor made his push for a capital bill today at the RR Donnelley logistics headquarters in Bolingbrook. The facility is part of the RR Donnelley mail consolidation business, and is the largest private mail facility in the world. It has 15 acres under one roof and employs 500 people.
The I-55 project is already in IDOT’s multi-year plan, but if the Governor’s capital plan is approved, work on this project can start sooner and the funds that were in the multi-year plan for this project can be freed up for other projects around the state.
"We need this expansion of I-55 to continue to grow our business. We support this project because it will improve our nationwide distribution. We consider Illinois the crossroads for the distribution of the United States. We consider this project critical," Daniel Scapin, President, Logistics - RR Donnelley said.
"I am here today to support the I-55 widening project, and I am pleased the administration has made it a priority. If this gets resolved, we could move on other important projects that will further alleviate congestion," Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar said.
The following regional projects to be funded under a capital plan:
$67 million to widen I-55 from Weber Road to I-80 – in addition to $90 million programmed in the Fiscal Year 2007 highway spending plan for the startup of the project
$259 million in combined state and federal funds for the Prairie Parkway – the I-80 to I-88 North-South Connector
$45 million for additional lanes on 5.5 miles of US 30/Lincoln Highway in Frankfort, Mokena and New Lenox
$14 million for additional lanes on 2.3 miles of US 30/Lincoln Highway in Plainfield and Joliet
More than $5.8 million in state and federal funds for the Arsenal Road
$2.5 million for realignment of Exchange Street in Crete
$2 million in state and federal funds for Will County to begin engineering and pre-construction activities for a bridge linking Caton Farm Road with Bruce Road
$600,000 for new construction on Airport Road in Bolingbrook
Systems in Northeastern Illinois have provided the Illinois Department of Transportation with potential projects that may benefit from the ability to match $1.7 billion in federal public transportation funds through the Governor’s capital bill.
$100 million in new State funds for a combined total of $200 million in State and federal funds for the Chicago Region Environmental And Transportation Efficiency Program – or CREATE
CREATE, a 10-year program, works to reduce bottlenecks in the Chicago region’s freight rail and Metra systems
The program will fund upgrades to railroad track, signals and connections to reduce rail delays; highway-rail grade crossing separations and new bridges to reduce conflicts between Metra service and freight trains
Joliet Public Schools District 86 would receive nearly $27 million in school construction grants.