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Plainfield poised to OK 143rd Street extension engineering

Brock A. Stein | 7/15/2015, 3:24 p.m.
The second phase of the work will cost $2.1 million, but will make the project "shovel ready" once federal funding ...

Plainfield Trustee Jim Racich didn't mince words Monday when it came to his opinion on a proposed 143rd Street extension in the village.

"This project, in my estimation, has to be completed," Racich said, speaking at the village board's workshop meeting. "Trains and trucks are strangling the village of Plainfield."

What's being jeopardized is the economic viability of the village and its desirability as a place to live are being jeopardized by ongoing traffic problems, he said.

When it is built, the extension will provide an east-west road using a bridge to take vehicles to and from Interstate 55 while avoiding the tracks that currently cause long rush-hour traffic jams when trains go through town.

For several years the village has worked to complete preliminary engineering studies needed to get the project "shovel ready" in the eyes of federal transportation authorities, who will ultimately have to sign off on grant money for the bulk of the estimated $30 million project.

About $500,000 of a $2 million grant from the Will County Governmental League was used to fund the first phase of engineering for the project, which received Illinois Department of Transportation approval in December, and now the board must decide if it will dip into that money again to pay for phase two.

The project is being prepared in conjunction with plans for a Lockport Street bypass to reroute traffic off of village surface streets, which will also relieve traffic congestion.

Both projects, along with a new Interstate 55 interchange at Airport Road in Romeoville, are being planned to improve traffic flow for commuters in the region where traffic volumes are projected to increase in the coming decades as the population grows.

The 1.2-mile extension would connect East 143rd Street where it currently ends at Route 59 to Illinois 126. It would also intersect at Plainfield/Naperville Road.

The roadway would include two 12-foot-wide lanes separated by a 6-foot median with an 865-foot bridge over the DuPage River. Sections of the stretch would include noise eliminating fencing to shield nearby residences.

The next step in the project is for the village board to approve a 30-month, $2.1 million contract with Crawford, Murphy and Tilly, which will do the second phase of engineering and design work.

Once completed, the project will have to wait until funding can be secured.

"There is no question about it: we need to find federal funds," Village Administrator Brian Murphy said.

Having a project ready to start construction or "shovel ready" will make it more appealing to federal authorities when it comes time to award funding, Murphy said.

Village Public Works Director Allen Persons said the money spent on the project so far is an "investment" that will help make the project more attractive to federal funding sources.

"It will make it much more likely (to happen)," Persons said.