A Publication of WTVP

In the last several months major strategic decisions were made by community organizations that greatly impact the future of Peoria’s riverfront area.

The board of trustees of Lakeview Museum, in conjunction with other key museum groups, decided to pursue a 110,000-square-foot regional museum in the riverfront corridor, tentatively named Lakeview Regional Museum.

The report on the Peoria Regional Biosciences Strategies indicated a major opportunity exists for redeveloping and revitalizing neighborhoods within the City of Peoria. The neighborhoods that would most likely benefit are those along Main Street and the corridor between the new O’Brien Field and south gateway in downtown Peoria, as well as along the riverfront.

The proposed Central Illinois Cancer Center always planned to locate on the University of Illinois College of Medicine property on Main Street.

The Peoria Zoo initiative is also largely within the downtown area along the riverfront. Together, these projects, combined with other past initiatives, set the stage for a more vibrant downtown and a new future for the City of Peoria.

As I was listening to executives and elected officials in Kalamazoo, Mich., discussing their plans for their biosciences initiative, it was consistently highlighted how I-94 and Michigan Highway 31 are utilized to help expand and to become more accessible to Chicago and Detroit. It was even mentioned how Kalamazoo is closer to Chicago than Peoria. As I listened, it dawned on me Kalamazoo has a clear transportation strategy consistent with their economic development and bioscience initiatives.

It is very unclear to me whether we have a consistent, coordinated transportation strategy that supports the projects noted above. Clearly building roads, reliable air service, high speed rail, etc. that do not address the regional needs of downtown Peoria is inconsistent with the strategic decisions key business and community leaders are making.

The environment by which transportation strategies were made in the past has changed. One year ago, there was no bioscience initiative, no framework for Lakeview Regional Museum, no O’Brien Field, no monies for planning a Cancer Center, not even the current mayor. With these exciting developments, it requires revisiting our current transportation strategies. Certainly our transportation strategies need to be reviewed as part of the community planning effort Mayor Ransburg hopes to conduct. For all of these projects to be worthwhile, a coordinated transportation strategy that supports them must be present. If not, these projects can be in jeopardy. IBI