Friday, June 5, 2015

Traffic Problems Continue as Illiana is Put on Hold

By Mary Baskerville

MANHATTAN—The governor’s announcement to suspend work on the Illiana Expressway puts Manhattan in the position of waiting for transportation solutions.  “The problem is all the towns and municipalities are caught in this tug-of-war between the governor and the legislators,” Mayor James Doyle said.

“With everybody—it’s wait and see.”

The Illiana would help relieve heavy truck traffic through the center of town, Doyle said. Meanwhile, the Village of Manhattan continues to see about a ten percent increase in heavy truck traffic travel on U.S. Route 52 in the wake of the closing of Walter Strawn Drive in Elwood, he said.

Citing a lack of money, the governor’s office said in a news release Tuesday that the Illiana would be taken off the current multi-year plan list. The release went on to say: “It is the determination of IDOT that the project costs exceed currently available resources. The Department will begin the process of suspending all existing project contracts and procurements.”

Speaking after the regular village board meeting, Doyle said the governor’s action doesn’t necessarily kill the Illiana:   “It’s taken off the list—but the study still counts. If they would have discarded the study, then it would have been dead for sure. But since the study is not discarded, if they come up with funds, if they figure out a way, they could put it back on the list.”

The stop on the Illiana “is putting the congestion back on I-80 and 55 and 53—and they are already hazards now,” Doyle said. “They are bottlenecks for trucks, and there are more accidents than ever before.”  

The village had been in favor of the Illliana and wanted to see an interchange at Cedar and Wilmington-Peotone Road, he said. 

A hold on the Illiana does not change Manhattan's planning:  “For right now, it doesn’t change the planning,” Doyle said. “We can’t stop trucks from using the state truck routes.”  

There have been no recent truck counts through town, but the village will enforce weight limits and speed limits: “We want the residents to be safe.”