City leaders push for expansion of Ill. 57

This aerial view shows Ill. 57 looking north from Sem Minerals LP during flooding on May. 31. The Quincy Council approved a resolution urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other state leaders to expand Ill. 57 to a four-lane highway. This expansion would create a bypass around Marblehead and possibly would raise the highway from the flood plain. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 14, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY — The Illinois Department of Transportation's current construction plan for Ill. 57 is to resurface the mostly two-lane highway between Quincy and the Interstate 172 interchange near Fall Creek next year.

Leaders within Quincy's municipal government and business community are hoping to alter those plans to include widening the highway to four lanes. Letters from area business groups and a resolution from the Quincy City Council have been sent to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker encouraging him to back the proposal.

The proposal comes as part of a push by business and civic leaders to modernize the highway and ensure the city has a seamless connection to U.S. 61 in Missouri, I-172 and the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway.

In an eight-page document sent to the governor, city leaders ask IDOT to consider making any number of changes. Those changes include decoupling Third and Fourth streets from Broadway to York Streets; converting Third Steet to allow for both north and south traffic using five lanes; widening Ill. 57 to five lanes from York Street south to Marblehead; install a four-lane divided bypass to the west of Marblehead to address freight and traffic bottlenecks; and widen Ill. 57 from Marblehead south to I-172 to a four-lane divided highway.

Quincy's Director of Planning and Development Chuck Bevelheimer said the hope is that with the expansion, the highway will also be elevated out of the flood plain, negating the risk of it being closed to flooding.

The cost for these changes to Ill. 57 vary, but early estimates have the project costing $250 million.

The project could be broken into three phases.

The first phase asks the governor for $22 million to conduct a location study and environmental assessment. This phase is expected to take 18 months to complete.

The second phase is to design the highway and to acquire the necessary property for the expansion. This phase is expected to take an additional two to three years. Officials are requesting the governor appropriate $38 million in fiscal year 2022 funding for the project.

The final phase would be the construction phase, which would cost $200 million. This phase could be split into at least three or four sub-phases to "maximize opportunities for attracting federal grant dollars to this project," according to the letter sent to the governor.

"What this resolution is designed to do is to ramp up the campaign to put Highway 57 on the governor's radar," Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said in an interview after Monday night's Quincy City Council meeting.

"As the state is making the final determinations for the IDOT expenditures for the next five years, we are saying that the expansion of Highway 57 to a four-lane highway should be included in their plans," Moore said. "We are sending this to the governor so that he is aware of how we feel about the corridor."

In the document, the city describes the highway as "a dangerous, narrow, two-lane highway with numerous industrial driveways that carries significant local traffic, commuting traffic, and regional truck traffic."

Per IDOT, traffic counts on the highway vary. Daily traffic counts vary with an average of 8,950 vehicles near Quincy and 4,100 vehicles near Bluff Hall and Marblehead.

Since 2009, there have been 469 motor vehicle crashes on Ill. 57 from Broadway to I-172 at Fall Creek. Officials report that in those crashes, about 113 of them had injuries and one had a fatality.

The proposed new alignment of Memorial Bridge in Quincy would "add considerable traffic" to the highway, potentially increasing the risk for additional motor vehicle collisions, according to city leaders.

Moore said he and Pritzker discussed the highway during a meeting this past week.

"He is aware of our needs and we have to be aware that the governor has been very kind to Quincy," Moore said. "I believe he is willing to work in a bipartisan manner to address those needs."