Calling it a “great day for the people of Illinois,” Gov. Bruce Rauner marked the start of an Interstate 80 interchange project Wednesday with a ceremonial groundbreaking in New Lenox.
“This interchange is a major reason why Illinois is a leader in transportation,” Rauner said. “Strategic investments like this not only enhance quality of life and improve the flow of goods, services and people, but also set the stage for economic growth for generations to come.”
The $47 million project will extend the third lane in each direction of I-80 from near Interstate 355 through Route 30. The I-80 bridges spanning Route 30, railroad tracks and Hickory Creek also will be rebuilt.
Entrance and exit ramps also are to be realigned, traffic signals will be modernized, drainage improved and a bike path extended, according to the plan.
New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said the project is overdue.
“This was an interchange in desperate need of improvement,” he said. “Now we need to push for safety all along I-80.”
State Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, told how her constituents are afraid to drive on I-80.
“They said, ‘I-80, it’s so dangerous,’ ” she said.
Tree removal and other preconstruction tasks are scheduled to start next week and continue through the winter. Construction is to begin in the spring and is expected to last until late 2021.