A Publication of WTVP

Peoria Heights Eyeballs Game-Changing Capital Projects

by Lisa Coon | Photos by Mike Bailey |

Peoria Heights officials are optimistic that planned road improvements will spur additional economic development to take the village to the next level. 

Rebuild Illinois and the Illinois Department of Transportation’s multi-year program for 2023-2028 have earmarked some $68.5 million for the complete overhaul of approximately 2.5 miles of Illinois Route 29 (Galena Road) between Gardner Lane and the McClugage Bridge. Most of that stretch is in Peoria Heights, the southernmost portion in Peoria.

“While we see opportunities in ecotourism and residential growth along that area, the safety of those using the road is a huge concern,” said Mayor Mike Phelan. 

Karen Dvorsky, IDOT District 4 program development engineer, said the project is in phase one, which includes determining the project scope, conducting environmental studies and beginning preliminary design. 

In addition to the widening of the roadway with a bi-directional turn lane and a wholesale reconstruction, plans also call for a 10-foot-wide multi-use path to be built on the bluff side of the highway, Dvorsky said. 

“Part of the scope is to see how to tie that path together with the trail head at the McClugage Bridge,” she said. 

Phelan expressed gratitude for the ongoing efforts of state Sen. Dave Koehler, state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin to help bring such projects to fruition.  

He said communitywide input was sought prior to the pandemic on the Route 29 project, along with a proposed reinvention of Prospect Road, the village’s primary commercial corridor, between War Memorial Drive and Tower Park, stretching some 1.1 miles.

Proposed improvements include replacement of underground infrastructure and pavement, new sidewalks, better bicycle and transit facilities and a redesigned streetscape. 

Consultant and Community Development Director Wayne Aldrich said the cost and duration of the project won’t be clear until the completion of a Phase 1 study, for which the village is seeking $2 million in state or federal grants, to be complemented by a $500,000 local match.

“It’s possible it could be a total reconstruction, which would have an initial estimate of about $7 million but could go higher – to $10 million,” said Aldrich.

Phelan said the Prospect Road project is a key piece of the village’s comprehensive plan.

“This is the heart of our downtown,” he said. “We have people downtown from morning to night.” 

It’s also important to look at how to better tie Prospect Road to the Rock Island Greenway trail. 

“I equate it to almost like having another highway through the village with all the traffic the trail has,” Phelan said.  

“We talk about ecotourism,” agreed Aldrich. “We really feel there’s a tourism component that we need to capitalize on.”

Lisa Coon

Lisa Coon

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