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Local News

IDOT 5-year plan includes big improvements on I-80, I-55 in Will County

Traffic flows along the Interstate 80 bridge over he Des Plaines River, which is scheduled for replaced.
Traffic flows along the Interstate 80 bridge over he Des Plaines River, which is scheduled for replaced.

The Illinois Department of Transportation on Tuesday released a $21.3 billion five-year highway improvement plan with five major projects in Will County.

The plan includes $3.2 billion in spending for fiscal year 2021, but IDOT warned that funding could be curtailed because of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

The multi-year plan includes long-sought projects, including replacement of the Interstate 80 bridges over the Des Plaines River and new Interstate 55 interchanges in the Plainfield and Romeoville areas.

John Greuling, president and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development, said he was disappointed that IDOT isn't farther along on engineering on some projects but added there is a lot to look forward to, including the I-80 improvements.

"We could see a new bridge and a rebuilt I-80 from Ridge Road in Minooka to Route 30 in New Lenox by 2026," Greuling said.

Most of the local projects are not new and have been included in previous five-year plans. But the annual release of the five-year plans does show the schedule for planning and construction.

The timing on some projects may depend on how much damage the COVID-19 pandemic does to revenue from gas taxes.

The construction plan, which runs from 2021 to 2026, depends on Motor Fuel Tax revenue, which is expected to be down because of reduced driving during the pandemic, IDOT said in an overview of the plan.

"It is not yet known what the actual decrease will be," IDOT said. "Therefore, no adjustments were made to the MYP (multi-year plan). The department will continue to monitor the data and make any adjustments deemed necessary as actual revenue impacts become known."

IDOT also noted that the plan is funded through the Rebuild Illinois program, which increased overall dollars for road construction with increases in gas taxes and motor vehicle registration fees.

Improvements are slated for the heavily traveled Route 53 truck corridor between Joliet and Elwood.

Jefferson Street will be widened as well.

The plan itemizes about 135 improvements in Will County, although many of those items separate engineering, construction and other phases of single projects.

Here are the major projects for Will County.

Interstate 80

The $1.1 billion plan for I-80 continues improvements on a 16-mile stretch going through Joliet as it runs from Route 30 in New Lenox to Ridge Road in Minooka.

The plan includes replacement of the two bridges that cross the Des Plaines River. Auxiliary lanes will be added at interchanges to improve access. And, various bridges along the corridor will be repaired, rebuilt or replaced.

Interstate 55

The plan includes new interchanges at Airport-Lockport Road and Route 126 in the Plainfield and Romeoville areas at a cost of $181 million.

A $148 million project makes improvements from Lorenzo Road to Route 129 near Braidwood. It includes interchange reconstruction and bridge replacements at both Lorenzo Road and Route 129. Frontage road reconstruction in the area also is planned.

In Joliet, the plan also includes an improved interchange at Route 59, which would provide access to the planned Rock Run Crossings project. Cullinan Properties is planning a mixed-use development of retail, restaurants, offices and more, but that project, too, could be affected by the downswing in the economy.

Route 52/ Jefferson Street

Improvements include additional lanes and widening of pavement on a 2.5-mile stretch from Houbolt Road in Joliet to River Road in Shorewood.

The $97.5 million project includes additional turn lanes and widened bridges. The improved I-55 interchange at Route 59 is part of this overall plan.

Route 53

The $51 million plan primarily includes intersection improvements on Route 53 from Route 52 in Joliet to Arsenal Road in Elwood.

The corridor passes by the CenterPoint Intermodal Centers in Joliet and Elwood along with other warehouse areas that have added semitrailer traffic over the years.

The plans for Route 53 "are making intersection improvements to make it safer. It's not adding capacity," Greuling said.

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