State considering Interstate 74 expansion

PARIS – The stretch of Interstate 74 between Champaign and Mahomet could be expanded from four to six lanes within the next few years.

Dennis Markwell, program development engineer for Illinois Department of Transportation District 5, based in Paris, said the state has proposed spending up to $10 million to conduct an engineering study on I-74 west of Champaign in 2010.

"Right now the highway is two lanes going both ways, and we are looking into expanding it to three lanes in each direction," Markwell said. "The traffic is really picking up, and we are approaching the need for six lanes."

Depending on what the engineering study determines and budget approval by the General Assembly, Markwell said construction wouldn't begin before 2011 or perhaps 2012.

Markwell estimated the overall project will cost about $54 million.

The department's biggest construction project in the district in 2010 will be in McLean County, where the state plans to expand Interstate 55 from four lanes to six lanes in Normal from the Interstate 39 interchange to Veterans Parkway.

"We've got lots of congestion there, so we need some extra lanes," Markwell said.

The McLean County project is expected to cost about $35 million.

Markwell said the state also plans to replace two overpass bridges on Interstate 74 between Urbana and St. Joseph in 2010, including one on County Road 1800 E that has been closed since September when it was struck by an oversized truck. The overpass carrying County Road 1900 E (County Highway 24) over I-74 will also be replaced, Markwell said.

"Both bridges are in bad shape due to deterioration and age," he said.

Each bridge replacement project is expected to cost $3 million.

Motorists in southern Champaign County and northern Douglas County can expect to see work crews on Illinois 130 this summer.

Markwell said the department plans to resurface 9 miles of Illinois 130 from Philo to Villa Grove.

In the Philo area, work crews will replace or install storm sewers, curbs and gutters along the highway. Markwell said the shoulders of the highway will also be improved.

"We're seeing heavier traffic in that area in recent years," he said.

The Illinois 130 project is expected to cost a little over $7 million.

The rest area for southbound Interstate 57 north of Pesotum is expected to reopen within the next few months, Markwell said. Work to replace a sewer system at the rest area has already begun.

"We want to have that work completed as early in the year as possible," Markwell said.

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