Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed legislation June 9 that will bring the two states together to build the Illiana Expressway, connecting I-55 from south of Joliet, Ill., to I-65 near Lowell, Ind.
The Memorandum of Understanding calls for the two states to share the funding and responsibility of preliminary engineering, modeling and forecasting, and planning and permitting for the $1 billion project, which is expected to create nearly 14,000 jobs in Illinois.
“The first step is having the two states move together to determine the most feasible way to connect the two states with 50 miles of road,” said State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D – Olympia Fields, Ill.).
The joint effort will begin later this year with the initiation of environmental studies, which will seek participation from all stakeholders to define the transportation needs and evaluate alternatives.
Hutchinson noted that the bipartisan agreement was a feat in itself as partisanship is at an all time high. She said Gov. Daniels summed it up last week by saying, “The public’s interests do not know state lines or party lines.”
Gov. Quinn also signed Illinois Senate Bill 3659. Sponsored by Hutchinson, the bill creates public private agreements for the Illinana Expressway Act. The Illiana Expressway will serve as an alternate route to the highly traveled I-80 corridor as well as I-394 and local roads. The new Illiana Expressway will also provide access to Will County’s burgeoning freight and logistics centers.
The Illiana Expressway will allow for more efficient movement of goods between transportation modes, while attracting new logistics and manufacturing companies looking to gain greater access to the marketplace.
The Chicago Southland’s other proposed transportation projects include a third airport, an extension of the Metra train service southeast from University Park to Peotone, and a proposed intermodal railyard in Crete.