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Federal Officials Approve Illiana Expressway Project

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December 12, 2014 — The 47-mile Illiana Expressway project has cleared a major hurdle.

The Federal Highway Administration has approved the $1.5 billion plan. The move opens the door for Indiana and Illinois transportation officials to continue seeking public and private partners to build, maintain and operate the road that would connect Interstate 65 north of Lowell with Interstate 55 near Wilmington, Illinois.

Here is the FHWA announcement made on Thursday:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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.

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, sixteen Corridor Planning Group meetings, and over 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.

Sources: The Indiana Department of Transportation and The Illinois Department of Transportation

Map of route courtesy chicagobusiness.com

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