Starting Feb. 1, Illinois’ major, 10-month rehabilitation project on “one of Illinois’ worst roads” begins with a five-month closure of a portion of Interstate 255.
The Illinois Department of Transportation announced the first phase of repairs to a crumbling section of I-255, one of many projects under the Rebuild Illinois capital plan, will begin by closing down all lanes between I-55/70 and I-64 for five months.
Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said a full closure of the interstate will allow repairs to the roadway to be made more quickly. He urged drivers to make a plan ahead of the closure.
“Please take some time to coordinate your trips and consider taking our suggested alternate routes. Our No. 1 priority is safety while finishing the project as quickly as possible and minimizing the impacts to the motoring public and surrounding communities,” he said in a statement.
IDOT is suggesting Illinois 3, 15, 157, 158, 159 and 161 as alternative routes, depending on the direction of travel. The department is also suggesting drivers add time into their travel schedules or use public transportation during off-peak hours.
Once finished, the second phase of the project will shut down a section of I-255 between I-64 and Illinois 15, west of Belleville. That construction, which also is expected to take five months, will begin in the summer. The entire project is expected to be finished by November.
Most of the interstate’s pavement dates back to the construction of the highway in the 1980s. IDOT said emergency repairs are frequent because of the aging pavement's failures and large potholes.
Closing the two portions of the road, according to IDOT, will shorten the repair time from an estimated four years to just one “construction season,” while also reducing the risk for drivers and construction workers.
The entire I-255 project is expected to cost about $67 million, which IDOT said is $4 million less than if work had been completed in several stages.
“These cost savings allow us to use these funds elsewhere within the region on other critical infrastructure projects,” an IDOT release states. “It also allows the work/project to be accelerated and compressed into one construction season, and it also reduces the overall construction time for a project of this size from four years to 10 months.”
The repairs include resurfacing seven miles of I-255 with asphalt from Collinsville Road to Illinois 15 in two sections, separated by Interstate 64, in addition to “significant bridge repairs,” safety improvements and draining upgrades.
The Rebuild Illinois capital program is a $45 billion project to restore the state’s aging transportation system. The funding for the program comes from the state’s gambling expansion, increased fees at the driver’s services office, doubling of the gas tax and a higher tax on tobacco.
The planned spending includes:
$33.2 billion for transportation projects.
$4.3 billion for state facilities including deferred maintenance, among other things.
$3.5 billion for education projects.
$1.9 billion for economic and community development.
$1.2 billion for environment and conservation projects.
$465 million for health care and human services.
$420 million for broadband deployment.
Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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