Several high-traffic streets in Bloomington-Normal will get a major makeover over the next six years as McLean County benefits from $173 million in funding from the state capital plan.
The state on Monday announced $23.5 billion in planned roadwork and bridge repairs statewide.
“In totality, you’ve got every state route in the City of Bloomington that’s not already been addressed in recent years will get addressed in the next five years,” said Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch. “This will be some major improvements for our citizens.”
The projects announced Monday include:
- $18 million for rehab of 4.7 miles of U.S. 51 (Main and Center streets) between College Avenue in Normal south to Olive Street in Bloomington. Targeted for 2021-2025. U.S. 51 between Division and Empire streets in Bloomington will see a total reconstruction, costing $2.7 million.
- $10.9 million to resurface 4.7 miles of Veterans Parkway. This will cover those sections of Veterans not completed during a recent resurfacing, including from Commerce Parkway north past Washington Street in Bloomington, and between Clearwater Avenue and Old Route 66 in Bloomington and Normal. Targeted for 2021-2025. Also funds a $600,000 engineering study for possible improvements to Veterans at Empire Street.
- $10.6 million for resurfacing 6.9 miles of Illinois Route 9 / U.S. 150 (Market, Hinshaw, Locust, Empire and Towanda) from Interstate 74 in west Bloomington to Royal Pointe Drive on the city’s east side, and from Locust Street to Towanda Avenue in Bloomington. Targeted for 2020-2025. Includes engineering and ADA improvements.
- $14.6 million to resurface 11 miles of Interstate 55 between Lexington and the Livingston County line, in 2020.
The U.S. 51 project will be among the most visible, affecting both Normal and Bloomington. The full scope is yet to be determined, but it apparently will include widening existing pavement, ADA improvements, and traffic signal modernization, said Normal Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich.
“There are sections that are really in a poor state of repair,” Aldrich said. He said the city and town have been asking the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to work on U.S. 51 for years.
The Route 9 rehab is also significant, said Karch. An added benefit is that the project will remove the state-route designation from Lee Street – which cuts through a neighborhood and past Bent Elementary School – and move it to nearby U.S. 51, which runs parallel to Lee, Karch said.
“That’s a really big deal,” Karch said, citing safety concerns.
The overall capital plan—$45 billion in total—was funded largely by a hike in the state’s motor fuel tax. The tax doubled from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents a gallon in July. The federal government is also matching many of the state expenditures.
“All together, these road and bridge projects will create and support hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next five years for hardworking Illinoisans in every part of our state,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement Monday. “Illinois has some of the most important roads in America – let’s make them outlast and outperform those across the nation.”
People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.