FHWA Signs the Tier Two Record of Decision, Marks End of Planning Phase
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) signed the Illiana Corridor Tier Two Record of Decision, marking the completion of the project’s environmental planning phase. With the issuance of the Record of Decision, the FHWA supports the transportation need for the project, approves the analysis of its environmental impacts, as well as any mitigation efforts, and concurs with the selected route alternative for the new 50-mile highway facility connecting Interstate 55 near Wilmington, IL, with Interstate 65 near Lowell, IN.
This action provides federal authorization for Indiana and Illinois to move the project forward from the planning phase to the implementation phase, laying the foundation for the continued exploration of public-private partnership opportunities for construction, maintenance and operation. Land acquisition efforts, including landowner relations and local planning activities, also can continue.
The Illiana Corridor will run east to west approximately 2 miles north of Kankakee County’s northern border. “The Economic Alliance and Kankakee County Planning Department have been strong advocates and instrumental team members in the early phase development of this gamechanging regional transportation project,” remarked Mike Van Mill, Economic Alliance President/CEO. “The Illiana’s proximity and massive projected economic impact will bring unprecedented growth opportunity to Kankakee County. We couldn’t be more pleased with the progress of this project and the benefit it will bring to our community and to our industries.”
“It is anticipated that a private partner or partners will be selected in 2015 to finalize design engineering, complete the financing package and build and operate the Illiana Expressway,” noted John Grueling, Will County Center for Economic Development President/CEO, in a message to members and partners. “The project has received priority status from both Illinois and Indiana and the federal governments, resulting in the completion of the environmental review in just over 3 years. Amazing what positive team work can accomplish! “
Throughout the Illiana planning process, the states and FHWA considered the benefits, impacts, and costs of many alternatives, as well as a host of federal policies, procedures, and regulations that guide transportation projects.
Studies for the Illiana Corridor were driven by an inclusive planning process with an unprecedented amount of stakeholder outreach and coordination, including five public meetings, two public hearings, five large-scale landowner meetings, 16 Corridor Planning Group meetings, and more than 300 small group meetings. The Record of Decision demonstrates how the bi-state partnership between Illinois and Indiana successfully collaborated with federal and state agencies, townships, municipalities, counties, elected officials, and all stakeholders to develop the region’s vision for a 21st century transportation system, while protecting our environment. This achievement will help facilitate long-term job creation and economic growth, while addressing a major transportation need in the Midwest.
The Tier Two Record of Decision and other information about the project can be viewed at www.IllianaCorridor.org.