Previous studies have indicated possible benefits for an east-west transportation corridor extending from I-55 in Illinois to I-65 in Indiana. These include providing an alternate route for motorists traveling the I-90/94 corridor, relieving traffic on the I-80 Borman/Kingery Expressway and U.S. 30, serving as a bypass for trucks around the congested metropolitan highways, providing access to one of the largest “inland port” intermodal freight areas in the U.S. and the proposed South Suburban Airport, supporting economic development in this area, and the potential for substantial job creation. Will County, IL was one of the fastest-growing counties in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010, adding 175,000 residents and increasing demand for additional transportation options.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) are continuing the Illiana Corridor Study, following the federal National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process. The NEPA process is approached in two parts, or Tiers, with extensive stakeholder involvement throughout.
Tier One involved the identification of transportation needs, the development and evaluation of alternatives for all modes, and the selection of a preferred corridor at a conceptual level of detail. The results of Tier One set the stage for more in depth discussions and analysis in Tier Two, which will involve more detailed engineering and environmental studies for the preferred Tier One corridor.
Many potential alternatives were considered in the study, as well as a “no build” alternative, and the study will strive to identify an alternative that provides the best balance of serving transportation needs, avoiding or minimizing environmental impacts, and incorporating community input and values.
The first Tier of the project is complete.