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Will County Officials encouraged by CMAP support of Illiana - Oct. 10, 2014

County Exec Letterhead - Anastasia TuskeyFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 10, 2014                                                                       


Will County Officials encouraged by CMAP support of Illiana

Thursday’s vote keeps the highway in the regional plan

JOLIET – In a defining vote on October 9th, members of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) Policy Committee reiterated its’ support for keeping the Illiana expressway in the GO TO 2040 Plan, a comprehensive regional plan created to move the region well into the 21st century.  A similar vote occurred just one year ago when the MPO, which includes representatives from all of the region’s transportation providers, approved adding the Illiana to the plan’s major capital project priority list.  Earlier in the week, members of the CMAP Board, a separate advisory group chaired by Gerald Bennett, Mayor of Palos Hills, rejected the updated Plan, claiming the Illiana is inconsistent with regional transportation needs.

Along with IDOT’s release of the Final Tier 2 EIS for the Illiana Corridor on September 26, 2014, this week’s vote clears the roadway to move forward.

“After many of conversations and multiple presentations, I am very happy to hear CMAP acknowledges the significant need for the Illiana,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “Despite the controversy, our regional partners recognize the importance of this roadway to our current and future transportation needs.

“Will County is proactively planning for the future and as the world’s largest inland port, we still have the potential for growth,” Walsh added.

Nick Palmer, representing County Executive Walsh at the MPO meeting, emphasized that the Illiana is needed to improve safety and congestion on local roads and area interstates as a result of increased truck traffic.

Will County is already home to more than 750,000 people and its population is projected to exceed 1 million people by 2040. Speaking on behalf of the project at the MPO meeting, Will County legislators and mayors explained that the Illiana will help accommodate the growth and be an essential asset for moving growing volumes of freight and exports through the region.

IDOT is pursuing use of a public private partnership [P3]for the Illiana to minimize public costs for the Highway.  In making their decision, members of the Policy Committee remarked on the need to find new ways to fund transportation and the importance of allowing the process to find a private partner for the Illiana to continue. There are currently four private developer teams interested in building the Illiana. The process to select one will begin in early 2015 after the project receives final federal approval this December.  IDOT Secretary, Erica Borggren who chairs the MPO Committee, reassured members that the state is seeking competitive bids and a sound financial plan for the Illiana. With the Illiana in the approved regional plan, Executive Walsh restated his belief that “the private sector will decide if a public private partnership for the Illiana is truly viable”.

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