Metro-East News

Seven miles of I-255 to close for major overhaul in early 2020

Drivers who regularly use I-255 are in for a 10-month closure as part of a major rehabilitation project.

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced a major rehabilitation project to what officials called one of the state’s “worst roads.” The project, slated to begin in early 2020, is the first of many projects under the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital plan and will be a complete overhaul of a crumbling section of the interstate.

In total, seven miles of I-255 will be closed for rehabilitation and resurfacing in two separate sections over a 10 month period from Collinsville Road near Fairmont Park to Illinois 15 west of the Shrine of Our Lady of Snows.

Officials with IDOT said a focused approach on the project will shorten what would have been a 4-year project to a 10-month project.

“As metro-east drivers know too well, I-255 was neglected for far too long and repairing it is a massive undertaking that IDOT will complete as quickly and safely as possible for those who rely on this roadway,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “As one of the first projects of the historic bipartisan ‘Rebuild Illinois’ effort, this is also one of the worst roads in the system today.”

Osman said IDOT will host public meetings to keep residents informed of the plan and progress of the project. They will be held Oct. 16, Caseyville Community Center, 909 S. Main St., Caseyville, 4 to 7 p.m.; Oct. 22, Clyde C. Jordan Center, 6755 Clyde C. Jordan Senior Center, East St. Louis, 3 to 6 p.m.; and Nov. 7, Wirth/Parks Middle School, 1900 Mousette Lane, Cahokia, 4 to 7 p.m.

“We look forward to a day when people feel good about driving on I-255 again,” he said.

Significant bridge repairs, safety improvements and drainage updates also will be a focus of the work, said Osman.

Tiffany Brase, a programming engineer with IDOT District 8, said there will be work on Interstate 64 in the months leading up to the I-255 overhaul. She said work also has been ongoing on roads that will have to handle additional traffic as part of detour routes.

“We’ve been planning for this the past couple of years,” she said. “We’re trying to get the other roads in the best shape possible ahead of this.”

After work in the north section of I-64 is finished, work will shift between I-64 and Illinois 15, requiring another full closure to a work zone in both directions for roughly five months.

In the meantime, Brase said drivers should look for alternative routes like the many state routes near I-255 and consider using mass transit options. She said a website with different options for drivers is in the works.

The project is expected to wrap up in late fall of 2020.

The Rebuild Illinois program, from which the overhaul stems from, was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this year. It included a gambling expansion, increases fees at the driver’s services office, doubling of the gas tax and a higher tax on tobacco.

Of the programs $45 billion, $33.2 billion will be spent on transportation projects. In southwestern Illinois, including the metro-east, there is at least $305 million worth of spending planned as part of the capital bill appropriations.

Three public meetings hosted by IDOT will be held about the project and alternative routes that can be used during construction.

Related stories from Belleville News-Democrat