Eastern Bypass open house turnout commendable

Staff Writer
Washington Times-Reporter

Hours before the public open house about the Eastern Bypass began Thursday, cars began to fill the parking lot at Countryside Banquet Facility.

Staff members said that around lunch time, eager Central Illinois residents began to knock on the doors, and at about 2 p.m. — an hour before the open house was scheduled to begin — organizers let the public inside and started the program early.

Joe Crowe, deputy director of highways for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said organizers expected a good turnout, but attendance was beyond his expectations.

“It shows the level of interest the public has with this project,” Crowe said during the meeting, as people examined maps of possible corridors, discussed them with members of other communities and filled out scores of comment cards.

Talks of building a “ring road” on the east side of the Illinois River have historically stirred controversy, but it is commendable that so many people who are passionate about the topic drove as long as 30 minutes to get informed and voice their opinions in person.

News of low voter turnout and widespread apathy is not uncommon, but the attendees at the bypass open house proved that public participation is not dead.

Some people were concerned about proposed corridors wiping out their houses, so it was no surprise they showed up and raised concerns. But even those whose property would be untouched by a potential roadway poured over the displays and shared their comments.

And it is not too late to voice yours, too. Those who did not attend the open house can voice their opinions by sending written comments to the Illinois Department of Transportation, 401 Main St., Peoria, IL 61602 by Monday, or by calling 671-3333.