ROADS/BRIDGES: INDOT acts to keep Illiana Expressway alive

May 9, 2016
Indiana is seeking to go through with the bi-state project, while Illinois withholds action

A late April agreement between the Indiana and Illinois Departments of Transportation aims to keep the Illiana Expressway project alive, though Illinois has yet to put it back on the state’s agenda.

The agreement between the two transportation agencies has Indiana paying to make changes to the project’s Environmental Impact Statement, which details the potential demographic, economic, and environmental impact of the expressway project, so it can pass legal muster. Last year, a federal judge rejected it, ruling the document flawed and inadequate.

The April 25 filing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois formalizing the agreement said that completion of the work is anticipated for the end of July.

The Indiana DOT (INDOT) has estimated reworking the document will cost less than $150,000.

INDOT never hid its willingness to proceed with the Illiana project, even after Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner gave the bi-state project the cold shoulder shortly after assuming office in January 2015. According to Illinois DOT spokesman Guy Tridgell, the state is not pursuing the project.

The Illiana Expressway would be a 47-mile toll highway running between Interstate 65 in south Lake County and Interstate 55 in Will County, Illinois. The project’s cost is estimated at $1.5 billion.

U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso ruled that the Environmental Impact Statement did not adequately assess the impact of the Illiana on traffic on nearby state and local roads, did not appropriately address potential conflicts between the Illiana and regional land use plans, nor thoroughly evaluate the impact on Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

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