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‘An Investment in our Future’

Five-year plan calls for $1.7 billion in infrastructure spending in IDOT District 4
by Lisa Coon | Photos by Ron Johnson |
2022-10_hdr_0004_05_road-bridge-roundup

Multiple road-and-bridge projects are in the pipeline for the Peoria area as part of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s multi-year program.

From 2023 to 2028, $20 billion will go towards transportation investments across the state, including 2,500 miles of roads and nearly 10 million square feet of bridge deck. Backed by the historic Rebuild Illinois capital program, the plans were announced in early August by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. 

“At its very core, Rebuild Illinois and (IDOT’s multi-year program) are an investment in our future — one that leads to economic prosperity and environmental sustainability,” Pritzker stated in a news release.

Of the major elements in the program, $6.36 billion will go toward highway reconstruction and preservation, $6.4 billion for bridge improvements, $2.03 billion for strategic expansion, $2.48 billion for system support such as engineering and land acquisition, and $1.55 billion for safety and system modernizations. 

IDOT’s District 4, which includes Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties, plus Fulton, Henderson, Knox, McDonough, Marshall, Mercer, Putnam, Stark and Warren counties, will see $1.7 billion in improvements over the next five years.  

Construction crews work on the resurfacing of Western Avenue in Peoria.

“These are roads and bridges we take every day to get to work, go to school, and visit the people we love,” Democratic Sen. Dave Koehler said in a news release. “Not only will this investment make our roadways safer and our community more accessible, but it will create good-paying jobs for years to come.” 

Karen Dvorsky, IDOT District 4 program development engineer, said Illinois has made good progress addressing road and bridge repairs in the last three years. 

“There is so much funding right now,” she said. “When we look at statewide priorities, the national highway system and bridge system are among the top priorities. We’ve been underfunded for updates for many, many decades. 

“Bridges, of course, are our number one priority due to safety,” she said. “We have a lot of bridges in District 4.” 

Here’s a preview:  

The Bob Michel Bridge will get $18.4 million in reinvestment.

The work includes bridge deck overlay, joint replacement or repairs, bridge repairs, reconfiguration of the deck to improve pedestrian and bike accommodations, and navigation lighting repairs. 

“One of the unique things is to reconfigure the deck to accommodate bikes and pedestrians,” Dvorsky said. “Right now, there are sidewalks on both sides. We’ll remove those, reconfigure the concrete median and reallocate space, building a 14-foot, bi-directional, multi-use path on the upstream side (Embassy Suites side) of the bridge. The path will be separated from traffic with a concrete barrier.” 

The goal is to go out for bids this fall with construction beginning in 2023 and lasting from March to November. Dvorsky said the bridge, which was built in 1993, will be closed to vehicular traffic, but it will be accessible to pedestrian and bike traffic throughout the project. 

A $66.9 million project for Cedar Street will begin once work on the Michel Bridge is completed, Dvorsky said. 

The work will combine three projects and require a two-year closure due to the number of bridges in need of repair on the entire stretch of Cedar Street. The three projects are: 

  • The Cedar Street Extension on the roadway’s east end will see a reconstruction of the Edmund Street interchange. In addition, the 56-year-old bridge over the Tazewell and Peoria Railroad and Illinois Route 29 will be replaced. This project also includes reconstruction of Main Street from Ravine Street to Silver Street in East Peoria. 
  • Illinois Route 116/Route 8 will receive mill and overlay from the Illinois River to Center Street, including the Edmund Street interchange. The bridge decks will be replaced and rehabilitated on bridges over Richland and Edmund Streets. 
  • Structural steel repairs will be made to the 90-year-old Cedar Street Bridge carrying Illinois Route 116/Route 8 over the river.  
Construction road work on Western Avenue in Peoria.

The work will be put out for bid in 2023 with construction beginning in 2024. 

Two separate projects call for bridge replacements on Adams Street and on Interstate 474 over Kickapoo Creek. 

Replacing the eastbound and westbound bridges on Adams Street over the BNSF and UP railroads will cost $39 million. The eastbound bridge was built in 1980, the westbound bridge in 1936. 

The deck on the bridge carrying Interstate 474 over Kickapoo Creek and the Burlington-Northern Railroad will be replaced at a cost of $14.3 million. The bridge was built in 1978. 

“This is of a smaller scope, similar to what was done on the Murray Baker Bridge with removal of the whole deck,” Dvorsky said. “It helps elongate the life of the bridge.” 

Meanwhile, a third bridge on Airport Road over Interstate 474 – originally built in 1978 — about one-half mile northeast of the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport will be replaced at a price tag of $8.5 million. 

“That bridge serves the airport, so it’s important to the area for that reason,” Dvorsky said.  

Construction on these projects could begin in 2024. 

Once the new eastbound span of the McClugage Bridge is completed, deck replacement and maintenance will begin on the westbound McClugage span, which was built in 1982. 

“As soon as the new eastbound bridge is open, we’ll immediately put traffic on the new bridge and close the westbound,” Dvorsky said. 

Design work is underway on the $53.7 million project.  

A new bridge immediately upstream from the existing Illinois Route 18 bridge at Henry in Marshall County will be constructed for $128 million. 

“One of the goals of the community was to select an alignment that is offline so we can keep the bridge open during construction – like the new McClugage Bridge eastbound span,” Dvorsky said. 

Phase one – developing the project scope, environmental studies and preliminary design of the project – is currently underway. This phase could take up to two years, followed by the design phase and likely another two years. 

Replacing a bridge and widening U.S. Route 29/Illinois Route 9 to four lanes from Banner to Kingston Mines is included in IDOT’s multi-year plan at a cost of $110.3 million. 

“This … is a project that actually got started a couple decades ago,” Dvorsky said.

Lisa Coon

Lisa Coon

is a Peoria native who had a long career in the newspaper industry before moving into marketing and communications.  
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