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Local News

Will County holds open house on transportation plans

Visitors came to Joliet Junior College to learn about Will Connects 2040

JOLIET – The public got an extensive look Tuesday at the long-range transportation plan for Will County during an open house held at Joliet Junior College.

The event showed residents aspects of the plan through rows of poster boards. Transportation experts were on hand to answer questions and visitors were encouraged to take a survey on the plan.

The plan is called Will Connects 2040 and it aspires to link transportation with economic development and jobs while also supporting road infrastructure needs and quality of life improvements.

Robin Woods of University Park said she was interested in how county officials plan to address traffic in their long-range plan given the horrible condition of Interstates 50 and 80, as well as the continuing population growth in the southwest suburbs. 

“The future is out here,” she said.

Tuesday’s meeting was the first of five open houses being held throughout Will County. The next meetings will be held Wednesday in Wilmington, Jan. 26 in University Park, Jan. 27 in Romeoville and Jan. 28 in New Lenox.

Part of the goal of the long-range plan is to accommodate future population and job growth in the county. Between 1990 and 2010, the population and the number of those employed grew by about 90 percent and 88 percent, respectively.

Will County Executive Larry Walsh Sr. has said the county is going through a transition period with booming intermodals and residential growth that poses serious challenges. 

Jerry Heinrich, Midewin Tallgrass Prairie Alliance president, said the county should have had a long-range plan in 2000 when the impending growth in development and truck traffic was evident. 

“Now here we are 15 years later and we still don’t have a plan to address intermodal traffic,” he said.

He said it’s not too late, however, and there’s still proposals that can be made. 

Dan Meyers, AECOM transportation planner, was one of several experts at the open house answering questions about Will Connects 2040. AECOM is consulting the county on projects, he said.

He said the people he spoke with liked seeing different scenarios of the plan that either accounted for the development of the Illiana Expressway or did not. 

Attendees were encouraged to give their input on how they would prioritize funding for projects based on a limited amount of spending.

“We really have to look at the financials of this,” Meyers said.

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IF YOU GO

Will Connects 2040 will hold open houses on the following days:

• 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Wilmington City Hall, Council Chambers, 1165 S. Water St., Wilmington

• 4 to 7 p.m., Jan. 26, Governors State University, Engbretson Hall, One University Parkway, University Park

• 4 to 7 p.m. Jan. 27, Romeoville Village Hall, Board Room, 1050 W. Romeo Road, Romeoville

• 4 to 7 p.m. Jan. 28, New Lenox Village Hall, Community Room, One Veterans Parkway, New Lenox

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