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Local News

Will County to seek 'quick take' powers for I-55, Weber Road project

ROMEOVILLE — Will County will likely have to resort to “quick take” powers to gain control of land needed to complete the road project at Weber Road and Interstate 55 in Romeoville from property owners.

To coincide with the Illinois Department of Transportation's spring 2016 bid-letting timeline, Will County Highway Engineer Bruce Gould said the county needs to go to the Illinois General Assembly this fall for approval to bypass potentially lengthy eminent domain court proceedings.

Otherwise, the county's portion of the major road project could be delayed another two to three years, Gould told members of the Will County Executive Committee Thursday. There are 26 parcels in all needed for right-of-way, he said.

Quick take powers allow local governments to take control of land after filing a condemnation case by paying the approximate value of the property, also known as “preliminary just compensation,” to the property owner, according to IDOT. Quick take doesn't strip away property owners' rights to argue land value, but it allows the county to take land needed for the project prior to anticipated court proceedings.

Gould's announcement was welcomed by committee Chairman Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, and board member Don Moran, D-Romeoville.

“This is the busiest stretch of road we have on our county highway system. And I don't want to see this get [dragged] out,” Moran said. “Without quick take, if this is going to take another two, three years down the road maybe for the rest of the road work, I think this is essential.”

Gould cited a previous project at Weber and Renwick roads as an example of how the lengthy land acquisition process could tie up the undertaking for years.

“With the quick take that we did at the intersection of Weber and Renwick Road, we just had the second-to-last parcel go to trial a week ago tomorrow,” Gould said. “We still have one parcel out there that has not been settled in court. If we did not have the quick take ability on that intersection, we still would not have that completed.”

According to IDOT, the current project extends along Weber Road from 119th Street north of the interchange to 135th Street to the south and a half-mile east and west of Weber Road with Interstate 55 as the centerpoint.

The reconstruction will bring Weber to six lanes between 119th and 135th streets, and create a diverging diamond interchange.

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