CHAMPAIGN — Just in time for the first Fighting Illini home football game of the season, St. Mary's Road is open and ready for traffic.
The road had been closed since early July from Fourth Street to Lincoln Avenue while the University of Illinois rebuilt the two-lane road.
"It's been in a state of needing repair, and that's why it was closed to through traffic," said Andy Blacker, spokesman for the UI's Facilities & Services.
The UI road had been closed to through traffic since the summer of 2010 in order to reduce the number of cars and trucks traveling on the road, which was deteriorating along the sides and marked with several potholes.
"This is more extensive than a resurfacing," Blacker said. "We redid the entire surface," he said.
Crews ground up the road's old paving material and used it as a base, then they applied an asphalt surface.
There is no curb and gutter along the road, but the drainage was improved along it, he said.
The project cost $950,000 and was paid for by UI institutional funds, money the university sets aside primarily from grants and contracts.
A longer-term, corridor study of the road estimates the cost of a major update, including storm sewers, street lights, traffic signals and sidewalks, at around $6.5 million.
The recent work takes care of the UI's immediate needs.
"We timed it so it would be done in time for the football season and for the expected increase in traffic when the university hosts the NCAA tennis tournament (in spring 2013)," Blacker said.