East Peoria's portion of the Summit Drive extension project would cost $1.2 million.

On May 20, East Peoria City Council members and public works staff gave their thoughts about extending Summit Road to connect from Illinois Route 8 in Sunnyland to Grange Road in Washington.

Residents may voice their opinions or ask questions about the proposed road extension tonight at an informational meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Folepi Building, 2200 E. Washington St.

The meeting will include a brief presentation at 4 p.m. on the status of the project and the proposals under consideration. East Peoria city officials will discuss the project, answer questions and record comments.

Environmental documents, drawings, maps and aerial photography will be available for inspection during the public meeting as well.

The Summit Road extension project has been discussed by city leaders in East Peoria and Washington for two decades, said East Peoria city administrator Tom Brimberry.

An engineer’s estimate in 2001 said the city of East Peoria’s portion of the project cost totaled $500,000. Now, with the increasing cost of asphalt and oil, that figure is estimated at $1.2 million.

Under the new cost estimates, the total project cost is $2.4 million, with the Peoria/Pekin Urbanized Area Transportation Study committed to paying $1.2 million. East Peoria’s share would total about $1 million, while Washington’s share would be about $250,000.

PPUATS provides funding for roads of regional importance, Brimberry said, and normally contributes 70 percent of a project cost.

“In 2001 (PPUATS) promised to pay $1.2 million for a $1.7 million project,” Brimberry said. “The project increased to $2.4 million since 2001. The city pays that entire increase. PPUATS doesn’t pay more than $1.2 million.”

Washington is still committed to 18 percent of the project cost.

“But yet, East Peoria  is being asked to pay 82 percent of the local portion. It increased from $500,000 plus $700,000 to equal $1.2 million,” Brimberry said.

Ultimately, whether the road is extended is up to the East Peoria City Council. East Peoria officials also applied for the PPUATS funding.


Pros and cons

The city council weighed the pros and cons of the road extension.

The pros are that the extension would eliminate a dangerous intersection at Route 8 and School Street, said Brimberry, who added that he was told the spot is the most dangerous in unincorporated Tazewell County.

Another safety factor is that the road extension would provide the Northern Tazewell Fire Department an easier access to those who live near Illinois Central College, thus improving response times, city commissioner Gary Densberger said.

The Summit extension would also improve access to Sunnyland, thus perhaps helping the economy of the area, which has a nearly empty plaza, the main feature of the town.

“There’s a number of issues there to improve the climate,” said Ty Livingston, the city’s director of planning, who added that a new subdivision is being developed by Washington leaders at the eastern end of Summit.

The road extension would also provide a more direct route for Illinois Central College students coming from Sunnyland, Morton or other areas on the south side of Centennial.

Brimberry said the city of East Peoria has a boundary agreement with Washington and the extension could benefit property in both towns.

With a new road currently going through a field and a small wooded area, residential development could also occur. Depending on where any potential new residents locate along the 1,500-foot extension, they would pay property tax to East Peoria or Washington, but they would be in the Washington school district.

Streets supervisor Ric Semonski said the region would receive the most benefit from the road extension and East Peoria and Washington would equally benefit.

The cons concern money, which could take away from road repairs in town. Plus, the city of East Peoria would be responsible to maintain this new section of Summit Drive, Brimberry said.

City commissioner Dan Decker said he is worried about not having enough money to repair East Peoria’s streets. He said it would be hard to justify closing Hill Road recently because the city does not have the $600,000 to repair it and then spend $984,000 on the Summit project.

“I’d like to see the project move forward, but I’d like to do it in a way that makes sense,” Densberger said.

Mayor Dave Mingus said the Summit project deviates from the city’s list of priorities.

Brimberry said city leaders could explore the possibility of cost sharing with Tazewell County or other partnership to garner financial support, since the road extension will benefit the region.

Specifically, Brimberry said it would benefit ICC, Washington, East Peoria, Tazewell County and Sunnyland Plaza.

“People who don’t live in either one of our communities (unincorporated Tazewell County) would have a safer more direct route, and in that way it serves the region,” Brimberry said. “It would benefit the city of Washington because it would be beneficial for Sunnyland Plaza and for shoppers who might access to and from US 24.”

Mingus said the project certainly merits consideration.

“I think it’s unfortunate with the cost of oil, the cost has more than doubled for us,” Brimberry said.

The Summit Road extension has a January 2009 bid letting; however, Semonski said this could be pushed back to June. Construction could then begin in late 2009.