A two-decades-long dream of building a new bridge corridor over the Fox River in northern Kane County takes a leap forward Wednesday, June 4, with the official announcement of a $45 million commitment from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The long-awaited Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor — likely the most ambitious construction project in Kane County history — is expected to help relieve severe traffic congestion in northern Kane County and provide a significant economic shot in the arm for residents and businesses throughout the region.
In 2013, Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen called on County Board members, staff and municipal leaders to work with state and federal governments to secure additional funding for the project.
“Last year, I challenged the community to find an additional $10 million to $15 million or more to minimize the use of county funds and bring this project closer to fruition. I am delighted that we have met and exceeded that goal,” Lauzen said.
The estimated $120 million construction project would create a four-lane Fox River bridge crossing and roadway corridor with a median, approximately 5.6 miles in length, from Huntley Road to IL Route 62, providing a “much-needed alternative to the existing Fox River crossings,” Kane County Transportation Director Carl Schoedel said.
Schoedel said the bridge corridor will link three state routes — Route 25, Route 31 and Route 62 — and Randall Road, which is part of the National Highway System.
“Recognizing the economic benefit and benefits to the state highway system, the county and state have been cooperating since day one on this project,” Schoedel said.
The county estimates that it could begin construction as soon as 2015, pending completion of engineering, land acquisition and finalizing the funding package. Although officials are using $120 million as a ballpark price tag for construction, the total could be adjusted depending on the final design.
The project is presently in the Phase II engineering stage, and the county is pursuing needed rights of way, having acquired about 60 percent of the land needed for the project.
Kane County’s efforts to secure funding are not over.
To date, funding for the environmental studies, Phase I engineering, and land acquisition of the bridge corridor has been jointly provided by Kane County, the state of Illinois and the federal government, with municipalities also participating with some of the right-of-way dedications.
Phase II engineering will provide updated, more-accurate cost estimates in a matter of weeks or months. That information will help Kane County determine how much funding will be needed.
Future funding will come from a combination of user fees (tolls) and local, state and federal funds. Kane County will collect the tolls using an I-Pass-compatible system in cooperation with the Illinois Tollway. Exactly how much that toll will be has not been determined at this time, but the $45 million in state and Council of Mayors funding — plus any future nonlocal funding — will ensure that the toll rate is as low as it can be.
“This unique funding approach and continued partnership with the state of Illinois helps to move this regionally significant project forward with lesser impacts to the county’s transportation funds,” Schoedel said.
An added benefit is that the tolls provide a mechanism for non-Kane County users to assist in paying for a portion of the costs.
After years of comprehensive study, the Longmeadow Parkway project has received many signs of support, including the completion of the Environmental Impact Statement, the Federal Highway Administration’s Record of Decision in 2002, approvals of tolling considerations in 2009/2010, and Phase I engineering design approval in December 2013.
Municipalities in northern Kane County have been instrumental partners throughout the process. Schoedel said that the project has had “unprecedented support,” with no less than 12 supporting resolutions from local government bodies, including two counties — Kane and McHenry — and 10 surrounding municipalities: Algonquin, Barrington Hills, Carpentersville, East Dundee, Gilberts, Hampshire, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Sleepy Hollow and West Dundee.
More recently, the Kane Kendall Council of Mayors demonstrated its support for the project by programming $5 million of the $45 million total federal funds for the project.
“This commitment is the result of focused teamwork and collaboration,” Lauzen said. “The project consists of a unique local, state and federal partnership, which is a model for future transportation investments. The corridor has been a long-term vision of the County Board, and we are thankful for the ongoing partnership with the state of Illinois and federal government.”
SOURCE: Kane County press release