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Will County: $148 M for I-80 over next six years

6/18/2018, 6:47 p.m.
County Board using freight plan to secure funds for future Thetimesweekly.com Recent high-level discussions with Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration has ...

County Board using freight plan to secure funds for future

Thetimesweekly.com

Recent high-level discussions with Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration has led Will County Board leadership to press for funding improvements on I-80 through the county. Leadership says that I-80 is vital to Illinois' economy which will soon start to suffer due to the failing interstate. The board is hopeful that more funding will be available in the future. In discussions with the Illinois Secretary of Transportation and the Governor, board leadership stressed the importance of updating roads and bridges to support the booming shipping industry that has grown over the last few decades.

“The $34.4 million for the I-80 interchange at US-30 was one piece of the puzzle,” said Will County Board Speaker Jim Moustis (R-Frankfort). “There are many more pieces. As the largest inland port in the United States, it is vital that the County Board continue to aggressively push for additional funds for projects that will facilitate the flow of goods into and around the Chicago area.”

Three percent of the US GDP moves through Will County and Moustis said that funding for I-80 improvements cannot wait.

County Board Member and Transportation and Public Works Chair Don Gould (R-Shorewood) said, "Improving the flow of traffic will mean better quality of life for residents and a stronger economy for Illinois and the region." He said that the county’s freight plan that was completed last year has been critical to securing funding because the suggestions in the plan are considered shovel ready.

In May, the Governor’s office announce that the state will invest $148.4 million for bridge work and other improvements on Interstate 80 through Will County as part of their six year, $11.05 billion infrastructure plan.

County Board Member and Finance Committee Chair Mike Fricilone (R-Homer Glen) said that there are dollars available and the county will have to be creative in going after those funds. He said that they have had conversations about public private partnerships, toll lanes, and other ideas for funding improvements.

“We’re keeping all of our options on the table so that we can secure state and federal dollars,” said Fricilone. “Shipping and logistics are critical to Illinois’ economy and we are taking every opportunity available to send that message to the governor and his administration.”

In addition to the US-30 interchange, funds were recently secured for the 143rd Street extension in Plainfield, an area that has seen explosive population growth.

“There is a need to readjust our infrastructure to accommodate the change in population as well as the growth in logistics that have happened in the area,” said County Board Member Gretchen Fritz (R-Plainfield). “It is a

delicate balance but shipping and quality of life don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”

Will County Board Minority Leader Herb Brooks (D-Joliet) sees the impact that failing infrastructure has every day. “Go look at I-80 and you will see that the traffic is crawling,” said Brooks. “The road has deteriorated so much that traffic can often hardly move and that impacts the economy as well as the quality of life for the people of Will County.”