New coalition wants to speed up I-80 work

I-80 Coalition brings together local government, business and labor

By Bob Okon
The Herald News
June 27, 2018

I80 Traffic

Eric Ginnard –

A new I-80 Coalition is being formed to speed up long-term plans to improve the interstate.

The group held its first meeting Wednesday with more than 50 representatives from government, business and labor, said John Greuling, CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development.

Greuling said a similar coalition was formed to promote the construction of Interstate 355 in Will County, and the same kind of effort will be made to move Interstate 80 plans ahead of the tentative 15- to 20-year schedule that the Illinois Department of Transportation now has for the project.

“We’re really going to be a cheerleader and a lobbying group to get the project done a lot quicker than IDOT thinks they can get it done,” Greuling said.

That likely will include exploring alternative sources for funding improvements, he said.

IDOT has a plan costing at least $1 billion plan for I-80 improvements along a 16-mile stretch from New Lenox to Minooka. It includes major projects such as the replacement of the Des Plaines River bridge in Joliet, reconstruction of the Chicago Street interchange and additional lanes to improve traffic flow.

Funding is not available for the entire plan, however.

The state’s five-year plan only includes funding for replacing smaller bridges at Rowell Avenue, Richards Street, Gardner Street and Hickory Creek, along with rehabilitation of the Chicago Street bridge.

But Illinois also has committed $21 million to build a new Houbolt Road interchange in Joliet once CenterPoint Properties moves ahead with construction of a bridge over the Des Plaines River.

The state this month also announced it would use federal funding to rebuild the Route 30 interchange in New Lenox.

Charles Gallagher, president of Gallagher Asphalt and a member of the I-80 Coalition, said more is needed to “bring I-80 into the 21st century.”

“I think that areas of I-80 have been neglected for a long time,” Gallagher said. “Unfortunately in Illinois, there are too few dollars chasing too many needs. If we’re not there, we’re not going to get anything done.”

James Roolf, president of First Midwest Bank’s Joliet Banking Center and a member of the group that pushed for construction of I-355, said there was a lot of enthusiasm at the I-80 Coalition meeting.

“I think there’s a lot of interest in working through this,” Roolf said. “This is a much larger group than the [I-355] group was.”

The first goal of the coalition, Greuling said, will be to establish itself as a nonprofit so it can begin raising funds for education and lobbying efforts.

“One of the things we want to do is make sure the discussion on I-80 is factual and accurate,” he said. 

I-80 Coalition News

The Houbolt Road Extension Project

The Houbolt Road Extension Project Website The Houbolt Road Extension JV, LLC is a business partnership between CenterPoint Properties and United Bridge Partners. Will County is one of the nation’s largest transportation hubs, with demand for freight projected to...

read more

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

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.

read more

I-80 Public Hearings

You're InvitedI-80 Ridge Road to US Route 30 Public Hearings Wed. Nov. 6, 2019Holiday Inn1472 Rock Creek BoulevardJoliet, IL 60431 Thurs. Nov. 7, 2019All Nation Church of GodCommunity Life Center503 Water StreetJoliet, IL 60436   Des Plaines Bridges News

read more

Highway Projects Everywhere

Will County sees bonanza of infrastructure improvements

The state highway improvement plan for the next five years has something big in store for every part of Will County.

The Interstate 80 project that has captured the most attention promises improved bridges, new interchanges and other improvements through Joliet to the western end of the county.

read more

J.B. barnstorms behind capital plan

Pritzker signed the capital bill and kicked off his day in East St. Louis, then continued on to the Lincoln Depot State Historic Site in Springfield and held another event in the afternoon within sight of the infamous Interstate 80 bridge across the Des Plaines River, set to be replaced as part of $1.2 billion in the plan earmarked for multiple bridge replacements and road upgrades in Joliet and Will County.

read more