State Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, released a statement Tuesday calling for emergency repairs to the Interstate 80 bridge over the Des Plaines River in Joliet.
The Illinois Department of Transportation inspections report has described sections of the bridge as “critical,” “intolerable” and a “high priority for replacement,” although it also has said as late as last month it was safe.
“The dangerous situation at the Des Plaines River Valley Bridge could quickly become a matter of life and death for motorists,” Walsh said in the statement.
He said IDOT has been inspecting the bridge every three months, and there is $5 million set to come in as early as next month to repair the bridge. Walsh added that it’s been reported IDOT has been inspecting the bridge twice a year, and the project to rebuild the bridge is still in the study phase. However, given that the bridge handles 42,000 vehicles every day on average, IDOT has stepped up its safety inspections.
Walsh said he’ll use his positions as the vice chair of the House Appropriations Capitol Committee and as member of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition to push for a faster timetable to replace and upgrade the deficient bridge. He said he’s also reached out to his colleagues on the House Transportation: Regulation, Roads and Bridges Committee to have a public hearing on the bridge.
The hearing is scheduled for March 19.