ROCKFORD – August 30, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn and local officials broke ground today on the Morgan Street bridge replacement project in Rockford. The $37 million project, which includes $9.3 million in state funding, will create 400 construction jobs, enhance safety, improve traffic flow and revitalize the area south of downtown Rockford.
“My administration is committed to working closely with Rockford leaders to put people to work easing congestion and improving safety in an important area of the city,” Governor Quinn said. “When construction of the new bridge was in jeopardy because of a funding shortfall, we were determined to keep the project on schedule. By breaking ground here today, we will create 400 jobs and improve Rockford residents’ quality of life for many years to come.”
Planning for the new bridge over the Rock River began in 1999, but construction was only made possible through a $4.3 million commitment last month from Governor Quinn’s six-year, $31 billion, Illinois Jobs Now! capital program. The Illinois Commerce Commission also is contributing $5 million toward construction. The bridge was first built in 1890, with the last major renovation in 1960. While the bridge remains structurally sound, surface conditions have diminished to the point that truck traffic is prohibited.
The replacement bridge will be made with a steel arch system and will be widened by an extra lane to accommodate four lanes of traffic. Morgan Street approaching the Rock River also will be widened to four lanes, starting at South Main Street to the west and Kishwaukee Street to the east. At 503 feet, the new bridge will be significantly shorter than the existing, 798-foot bridge, resulting in lower maintenance costs.
Other components include ornamental railing and lighting, along with the construction of the city’s first roundabout intersection, at Morgan and Seminary streets, offering safer access to and from the surrounding neighborhoods. A new bike and pedestrian path will provide a critical link across the Rock River to connect to the Rockford area’s network of paths. Construction is scheduled to be complete by 2014.
Since January 2009, Governor Quinn has implemented the largest transportation capital program in state history, totaling $13 billion for improvements to highways, transit, rail and airports. Other transportation projects funded or under construction in the Rockford area include: the $66 million North Main Street reconstruction in Rockford, the $50 million Illinois 173 widening in Machesney Park and Loves Park, and $60 million for new Amtrak service between Chicago, Rockford and Dubuque.