EDWARDS — U.S. Route 24 will be expanded to four lanes from Kingston Mines to Banner as part of the state's $45 billion capital plan, Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday.
The expansion and renovation of the roadway, which has seen several fatal crashes in recent years, will be a major safety improvement, state Sen. Dave Koehler said at a news conference at the Illinois Department of Transportation facility in Edwards to announce local projects in the plan.
"What that will mean on that death trap is, we're going to save lives," Koehler said of the $114 million investment, which will create what he said is the first four-lane highway in Fulton County, as well as replacing bridges along the route.
Pritzker was in town to detail the impact of what he called "the largest, most robust capital plan in the state's history" on the Peoria area. It includes several other projects in Peoria and Tazewell counties.
"Quality transportation infrastructure is a baseline expectation that people have" of their government, the first-term governor said, reminding the garage filled with local public officials, union members and highway workers in training that the funds raised for transportation in the plan must, under the state's constitution, be placed in a fiscal "lockbox" to be spent only for transportation projects.
Some, like the U.S. 24 work, have been a long time coming. Senate President John Cullerton had pointed to the need for work there during his first speech after being re-elected to lead that chamber back in January, and on Thursday acting transportation secretary Omer Osman said he worked on proposals to widen the road from his post in Peoria's IDOT office nearly three decades ago.
"Because of this capital bill, it's finally going to be a reality," he said.
Also on the table is a $68.5 million investment to resurface and expand Galena Road through Peoria Heights along the Illinois River.
Mayor Mike Phelan called it important to the growth of the village and expansion of business opportunities there.
"We're thriving on War Memorial Drive and Prospect (Road), but this will really enhance the ability for us to continue to have economic development on Route 29," he said. "We've got a lot of green space there, we've got opportunities for residential and commercial development that we've actually been working on as we speak, so this just helps moves those projects forward."
Others at the event praised the capital bill for its long-term impacts on the state.
"It's an investment in what this community will be not in 2020, but in 2070," state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth said.
Other work in the area will include:
* $48.6 million for road resurfacing and major bridge work for Interstate 474
* $41.9 million for road resurfacing on Interstate 74 between Peoria and Brimfield
* $39.9 million for extending the Cedar Street Bridge, including work on the on- and off-ramps on the East Peoria side to improve safety
* $35 million for rehabilitation of the Murray Baker Bridge
* $18.7 million to replace the Harmon Highway bridge over Kickapoo Creek.
Some of those projects — notably the Murray Baker Bridge and the Cedar Street Bridge work — had already been announced in previous IDOT multi-year construction plans.
But administration officials said the capital plan will ensure the work moves ahead without delay.
"The capital program provides assurance that projects of this size and magnitude now will be able to move forward," said Pritzker's spokeswoman, Jordan Abudayyeh. "Without funding from the capital program, projects were in serious jeopardy of being delayed or dropped altogether."