Metro-East News

After years of opposition, IDOT shelves Gateway Connector project

For years, citizens worked against the Illinois Gateway Connector project.
For years, citizens worked against the Illinois Gateway Connector project. BND/Derik Holtmann

A protection corridor set up to allow for a possible Illinois 158 expansion between Troy and Columbia, known as the Gateway Connector, has been abolished, the Illinois Department of Transportation said.

IDOT Region 5 Engineer Jeffrey Keirn, in a notice to people who would have potentially been affected by the Gateway Connector, said the corridor had been abolished by IDOT.

The corridor was put in place to set aside land for the connector.

The road would have extended from the Interstate 55/70 and U.S. 40 interchange near Troy, south and west through St. Clair County to Interstate 255 near Columbia. The corridor was a swath between one and two miles wide and about 37 miles long, drawn to encompass the area that future studies and design would have identified as the best locations for any possible road.

“After much consideration, the Illinois Department of Transportation is withdrawing corridor protection status on the proposed Gateway Corridor, bringing an end to a regulatory requirement that had been placed on landowners for many years,” said Guy Tridgell, director of communications for IDOT.

“Going forward, they will have the same rights afforded to any landowner. This decision allows IDOT to focus on projects that will create jobs and sustained economic growth in both the short and long term. We look forward to working closely with all local stakeholders on improvements that enhance safety and promote quality of life in the region.”

After much consideration, the Illinois Department of Transportation is withdrawing corridor protection status on the proposed Gateway Corridor, bringing an end to a regulatory requirement that had been placed on landowners for many years.

Guy Tridgell, director of communications for IDOT

For several years, IDOT worked on plans to extend the Illinois 158 corridor into Monroe and Madison counties.

There were many people against the plan and the corridor said it made it difficult for them to sell property within the area. The group Citizens for Smart Growth also said traffic projections for the road were faulty and overestimated traffic flow. They added the road would have led to environmental problems in the area.

“To all of you who signed petitions, wrote letters, made calls, and done so much — to you the rest of us owe a great deal,” Richard Ellerbrake, spokesperson Citizens for Smart Growth/Stop 158.org, said in an email to people who have fought against the project for years.

“Of the many citizens who have been involved in helping halt the Gateway Connector, only a small number actually reside in the former corridor. But thousands of you saw the negative impact this project would have had on many facets of our common life. Coming together, we did what citizens are supposed to do, and we thank you for that.”

As part of the planning process, IDOT put in the corridor protection district. This allowed the state to purchase land in that area before it is improved upon. Much of the land that was proposed for Gateway Corridor is agricultural, and four of the five parcels that IDOT purchased were done to prevent subdivisions being built.

If a homeowner wanted to improve the land, such as building or renovating a home, owners in the district had to notify IDOT, so the department could decide if it wants to buy the property.

According to the notice sent out by Keirn, property owners “will no longer be required to provide notice to the Illinois Department of Transportation of any anticipated development costs or planned improvements.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter

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