State resolution aimed at converting I-80 into tollway
By Bob Okon
The Herald News
March 26, 2019
State Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, has introduced legislation aimed at converting the local stretch of Interstate 80 into a tollway.
The resolution, if approved, would not finalize plans to convert I-80 into a tollway but could start the process. Walsh said the legislation is needed if a $1 billion-plus plan for improvements is ever to get funded.
“My purpose in introducing it is to bring that option to the forefront,” Walsh said. “We all know how bad I-80 is. We’ve been talking about it for I don’t know how many years.”
Talk about converting the local stretch of I-80 into a tollway has been going on for a little more than a year with the creation of two local groups – Residents United for Safer Highways (RUSH) and the I-80 Coalition – that are pushing to accelerate state spending on the planned improvements.
Walsh’s proposal would continue the I-80 tollway that now exists in Cook County and extend it west to Route 47 in Morris. I-80 now is a tollway from the Indiana border to the point where it connects with Interstate 294.
The bill, House Joint Resolution 50 (HJR50), is a resolution calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to direct the highway authorities to begin the process needed to obtain federal approval to convert the section of I-80 to a tollway.
Approval would be required in both the state House and Senate.
John Greuling, chief executive of the Will County Center for Economic Development, which formed the I-80 Coalition, called HJR50 “a good move.”
“If we leave the state to its own devices to try to figure out how to fund the reconfiguration of I-80, we could be waiting a long, long time,” Greuling said.
Walsh said as much as $1.5 billion could be needed to complete improvements planned for 16 miles of I-80 between Route 30 in New Lenox and Ridge Road in Minooka.
The state is considering a capital bill that would authorize $38 billion to $40 billion in road and bridge improvements during 10 years, he said.
“To go and ask for a billion and a half [dollars] for just
16 miles is a huge ask,” Walsh said.
Plans include extra lanes, new interchanges and bridge improvements. But most of the plan, including replacement of the bridge over the Des Plaines River and upgrades at the Chicago Street interchange, is not funded.
Illinois Tollway officials have expressed willingness to take on the project.
Former board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom spoke to Will County and Joliet officials last year and said the tollway could speed up the project. Pritzker has since appointed new members to the tollway board, including two from Will County.
I-80 Project News
The new interchange is expected to be complete in late 2021.
NEW LENOX, IL — Traffic will be shifted for the reconstruction of the I-80 – US 30 interchange in New Lenox starting June 3. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, traffic will be shifted to the right on the eastbound lanes between Gougar and Francis roads during the overnight hours on Monday, weather permitting.
Included in a statewide construction plan that addresses hospitals, schools and roadways will be funding dedicated to repairs ensuring the long-term safety of the I-80 bridge spanning the Des Plaines River. The plan passed with support from State Senators Pat McGuire and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.
Governor has proposed funding for aging infrastructure’s replacement
Inspectors this week are completing an annual examination of the Interstate 80 bridges that state officials say is done to assure they are safe to drive on, despite the need for repairs.
The city of Joliet and Mayor Bob O’Dekirk have announced the inclusion of $1.01 billion in I-80 reconstruction funds in the proposed $41.5 billion capital improvement plan proposed by Governor J.B. Pritzker. But there is nothing official from Springfield. Lawmakers still have until May 31st to approve the budget.
The push to improve Interstate 80 got a boost Friday when Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposed a state capital plan that includes $1 billion for Interstate 80.
A proposal shown to lawmakers includes major new spending on roads, transit, schools and more, but would require a doubling of the gas tax and new levies on items like vehicle registration, liquor, cable TV and ride-hailing.
Overnight Lane Closures For Safety Upgrades On I-80 By Monica DeSantis | Apr 25, 2019 The Illinois Department of Transportation announced that overnight lane closures are scheduled starting May 1 on Interstate 80 in Joliet for the installation of shoulder...
A coalition created to push for improvements to Interstate 80 will point to $623 billion of freight coming through Will County a year, making a case the local corridor has national importance.