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Local transportation projects will ease congestion in communities

By Rex Robinson | 6/10/2021, 6 a.m.
Road construction season is here, and Will County will have its share of it going on this summer and into ...

Road construction season is here, and Will County will have its share of it going on this summer and into the future.

While no one is ever happy to be slowed down by road construction, local mayors are excited to see federal dollars coming their way for infrastructure improvements in and around their communities.

“There is so much happening with infrastructure in the area right now. It’s actually a very busy time,” Romeoville Mayor John Noak said.

Noak estimated there is at least a quarter of billion dollars being invested in Romeoville alone right now.

He said he was especially excited to hear of federal funding for road improvements coming into the region resulting from projects put into the pipeline by Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-3) and Congressman Bill Foster (D-11).

Foster earlier this week announced projects representing a potential investment of more than $25 million for the 11th District and Newman announced six transportation projects for the 3rd District totaling more than $17.8 million. Funding for all the projects will come from the INVEST in America Act, this year’s House surface transportation reauthorization bill.

“For far too long, our nation has put modernizing our infrastructure and transportation systems on the back burner, resulting in incomplete infrastructure projects, broken roads, eliminated bus routes, and transportation deserts in far too many communities across the country. These six transportation projects encapsulate the type of transportation and infrastructure investments we need across our entire nation,” Newman said. “From creating greener transportation by electrifying our bus system to investing in new infrastructure that will keep residents safer, these projects represent the priorities of residents across this district. We will continue to build on these investments as part of the American Jobs Plan so that we can not only create millions of good-paying union jobs but also ensure our transportation becomes more accessible, affordable and equitable for all Americans.”

Foster said delivering federal resources to the 11th District will always be one of his top priorities, and funding for important transportation and infrastructure projects is no exception. “I’m proud that the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has selected the 11th District projects that I submitted for consideration. It’s beyond time we make critical investments in the local transportation infrastructure that our communities rely on every day.”

Foster and Newman worked together on at least one of the projects as it overlaps the two districts. That project includes the widening of Weber Road from Airport Road to 135th Street, in and around Romeoville. Foster secured $1 million for the project, and Newman secured another $1.1 million.

Sponsored by Will County, the project is designed to improve local traffic congestion by reconstructing two miles of roadway with a six-lane divided highway of Weber Road. The additional capacity created by this project will accommodate projected traffic volumes, including improving access for trucks that are generated by the industrial development on Taylor Road. Traffic in the project area is expected to increase almost 62 percent by 2050, up to 53,000 average daily traffic (ADT), including 5,300 trucks.

“As the logistics and shipping hub of the Midwest, Will County has many infrastructure needs that are vital to the continued economic expansion of the surrounding area,” said Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant. “We appreciate Rep. Newman’s attention to this project as it provides much needed safety improvements to a stretch of Weber Road while creating good-paying jobs.”

Plainfield also will be benefiting from some of the infrastructure money secured by Foster and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-14). That includes the 143rd Street East Extension from Illinois Route 59 to Illinois Route 126. Foster secured $3.7 million for the project and underwood secured another $2.5 million.

The 143rd Street East Extension is part of a regional improvement to increase mobility in the greater Plainfield area. The project is a component of a larger corridor level improvement which provides the missing links along 143rd Street from Ridge Road to IL 126. The improved corridor consists of a roadway extension from IL 59 to IL 126 (143rd Street East Extension) and a second roadway extension to the west from Ridge Road to Steiner Road (143rd Street West Extension). Inclusive growth is achieved as part of the 143rd Street East Extension by increasing the efficiency of public transportation through Pace's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system along I-55. Pace has already completed a $5,000,000 Park-n-Ride facility with over 600 parking stalls adjacent to the 143rd Street corridor in anticipation of increased ridership and routes within the region. Additionally, Pace is constructing a $50,000,000 regional bus garage and maintenance facility next to the Park-n-Ride facility to support its growth in the area. Providing additional public transportation options within the region will result in more choices for commuters while decreasing the burden on existing facilities.

Foster also secured $2.7 million for the reconstruction of Gouger Road from Laraway Road to Francis Road. The project calls for the reconstruction of 3.25 miles of the two-lane roadway with a four-lane, barrier median-separated highway. Gougar Road serves a mix of land uses with residential areas on both the north and south ends, two high schools, churches, a business park, parks, and a forest preserve. Gougar Road is a Class II truck route. The project will be constructed in two sections with the section between Laraway and Haven (just south of I-80) being constructed first per the timeline below, and the section from Haven to Francis being constructed just beyond the current five-year county program.