$10 million for design engineering, environmental studies
JOLIET – The Will County Board is voicing its support for the $10 million included in the state’s new multi-year construction program for further preliminary work on the proposed Illiana expressway project. First conceived by famed architect Daniel Burnham more than a century ago, the Illiana would link Interstate 65 in Indiana with I-55 in Illinois.
“We have high hopes for the expressway, and this new funding will move us farther down the road to getting it built,” said Chairman Jim Moustis. “We’re glad the governor has again made the Illiana a priority.”
The new funds set aside for the 2012 fiscal year are in addition to the $10 million included in this year’s budget. The money will be used to pay for design engineering, environmental studies and preliminary engineering, according to the governor’s office.
“The Illiana will be an economic engine for the entire region,” said Majority Leader Jim Bilotta (R-Lockport), Chairman of the Transportation Committee. The governor’s office has estimated the 56-mile project would generate 14,000 long term jobs in Illinois.
The Illiana project has received renewed attention in recent years because of increased traffic congestion on I-80 and US-30, plans for another intermodal freight yard and the proposed South Suburban Airport near Peotone. Governor Pat Quinn and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels last year signed legislation committing both states to move the project forward.
“Along with the economic benefits to the county and the region, the new highway would improve traffic safety and cut travel times,” said Minority Leader Walter Adamic (D-Joliet). “This is a great alternative to Interstates 80, 90 and 94, especially for semi-trucks.”
Officials have said that even though the Illiana is called an expressway, it would be built as a tollway in order to pay for the cost of construction.