Forest preserve land to be sold for I-80 interchange upgrade
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org April 25, 2014 10:30PM
Trucks are at a standstill on Eastbound I-80 after an accident on Eastbound I-80 near Route 30 in New Lenox, IL on Monday June 4, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 29, 2014 6:20AM
Future improvements to the Interstate 80 interchange at U.S. 30 in New Lenox will bring more than $660,000 to the Will County Forest Preserve District’s coffers.
Forest preserve officials have agreed to sell five easements on district property to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which will allow IDOT to widen I-80 to three lanes through that interchange, realign the ramps and make drainage improvements.
IDOT’s plan also calls for pavement widening, a new bicycle path, traffic signal upgrades and new lighting along U.S. 30.
The state also will completely remove the Old Plank Road Trail bridge over I-80 and replace it at a cost of $1.4 million. A prefabricated bridge will be installed on the east side of the existing bridge to keep the trail open during construction.
The forest preserve district approved the agreement and IDOT is expected to sign off on it soon, according to IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell.
Funding is not yet available for the $39 million improvement to I-80, but the state is doing preliminary work now so it will be “shovel ready” when funding becomes available, he said.
IDOT will pay the forest preserve district $108,700 for five parcels near the interchange, and $560,000 for tree mitigation and environmental impacts.
The money will be used to fill a budget gap, restore natural areas in the Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve and Prairie Bluff Preserve, and provide matching funds for projects involving the Veterans Memorial Trail and the DuPage River/Rock Run Greenway Trail.
The forest preserve district has received a $962,000 grant to pay for a 3,000-foot-long, east-west connection along Black Road to connect the two north-south trails — DuPage River and Rock Run Greenway — with a bridge over I-55. It is seeking another grant to include a bridge over the DuPage River.
The forest preserve district is seeking funding to construct another portion of the Veterans Memorial Trail from Route 6 in New Lenox north to 127th Street in Lemont, said Ralph Schultz, the forest preserve district’s director of planning and operations.
The first phase of the Veterans Memorial Trail was completed from the Centennial Trail to Bluff Road and used an existing low-level bridge across the Des Plaines River remaining from the construction of I-355. The second segment will open this summer, extending that portion of the asphalt trail north to International Parkway, and adding wayfinding signs at key points, Schultz said.
Meanwhile, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority will begin work soon on the exit ramp from southbound I-355 to eastbound I-80 in New Lenox, used by more than 14,600 vehicles daily. Lanes have been reduced from two to one as crews prepare to replace the concrete pavement approaching the ramp, and do sewer and guardrail work. Work is expected to be completed this summer, according to the tollway. This project is being coordinated with IDOT and Will County.