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January 17, 2013
For Immediate Release

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Corridor B3 Carried Forward

 

On January 17, 2013, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Illiana Corridor. The ROD is the official decision document that concludes the first tier of the project, advancing one corridor and a No Action alternative into the second tier of the project. The preferred corridor, known as "B3," extends from I-55 near Wilmington, Illinois to I-65 near Cedar Lake, Indiana; it was selected as the preferred corridor during the first tier of the planning process.

When built, the Illiana expressway will reduce the strain of truck traffic on local roads, thereby improving safety, cutting commuting times, reducing congestion, and improving accessibility to jobs. The expressway also will reduce environmental degradation by decreasing the number of travel hours and fuel wasted due to cars and trucks caught in congestion. Potential economic benefits include the creation and retention of more than 9,000 construction jobs in the short-term and more than 25,000 long-term jobs.

The issuance of the ROD is based on the Tier One Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Final EIS involved an examination of the transportation problems in the Study Area, a study of alternate corridors to address the problems, and consideration of the environmental and social impacts of reasonable alternatives. The Final EIS was completed at a sufficient level of engineering and environmental detail to allow for an informed decision on the issues under consideration.

Approval of the ROD grants the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) the ability to proceed with planning and design, as part of the Tier Two National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) studies. Tier Two studies include the identification of a refined alignment and an approximate 400-foot right of way within the 2,000-foot-wide planning corridor.

Tier Two studies, therefore, will shift the focus from the original, broad 952 square-mile study area to the communities, landowners, and access needs along the preferred corridor. Some of the engineering work will include interchange locations and layout, drainage studies, and determining overpass or underpass opportunities. During this process, stakeholder outreach again will be a top priority with careful consideration of community needs including farm operations, emergency services, school routes, and local land use planning. Tier Two may take an additional 12 to 24 months to complete.

Beginning in 2013, a study of funding, financing, and implementation options, including the feasibility of Public-Private Partnerships (P3) also will be conducted. P3 offers a unique opportunity to bring new investment dollars into the state and to deliver much needed new jobs and travel benefits more quickly than conventional methods of project delivery.