Metro-East News

IDOT discusses link between Illinois 3, 203 in East St. Louis

Illinois Rt. 3 improvements proposed

IDOT location studies engineer Cindy Stafford speaks Wednesday about improvements to Illinois Rt. 3
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IDOT location studies engineer Cindy Stafford speaks Wednesday about improvements to Illinois Rt. 3

A potential road connecting Illinois 3 and Illinois 203 would help more easily cross railroad tracks and improve mobility, the Illinois Department of Transportation said.

IDOT held an open house Wednesday to discuss options of a potential connector route between Illinois 3 and Illinois 203.

The goal of the project would be to improve mobility between Illinois 3 and Illinois 203 in Madison, Fairmont City and East St. Louis.

Four possible layouts are being considered by IDOT, which has to take into consideration, effects on wetlands, flood zones, building displacement, effects on decurrent false aster, an endangered species of plant in the area; and businesses among other things.

The estimated costs for the project range from $29 million to $47 million.

The estimated costs include construction and land acquisition costs, in today’s dollars, said Project Engineer James Ritter, with consultants CH2M.

The proposed connector road would carry about 2,500 vehicles a day. It would include bridges over existing railroads, the Landsdowne Ditch, and possibly the Cahokia Canal, depending on the chosen path.

“We’re trying to develop a roadway design that improves mobility and continuity for traffic in the area,” said Cindy Stafford, a location studies engineer for IDOT. “We have issues out there because there aren’t any good ways to go from route 3 to 203.”

Stafford said there is concern about getting around the area, including from emergency services.

Walter Greathouse the operations director for of the Metro East Sanitary District, wants to make sure bridges where the road crosses the ditch and canal would be high enough so his equipment can go underneath.

The sanitary district operates and maintains the Cahokia Canal and the Landsdowne Ditch.

“We’re looking at how the plans might affect us,” Greathouse said. “As long as they work with us, we’ll be fine; and IDOT is pretty good. They’ll work with us most of the time.”

Planners are looking to build a right-of-way that is 56 feet wide, which would include two lanes, bike paths and sidewalks.

The connector plans also take into account the layout for a future I-70 realignment leading to the Stan Musial Bridge.

A route that is estimated to cost $47 million to build would go through the Gateway National Golf Links and would be well north of the Gateway Motorsports Park. It would cross six acres of wetlands, but have to go over the Cahokia Canal and Landsdowne Ditch.

Stafford said IDOT has been in communication with the golf course representatives about the possibility of redeveloping the property.

A $35 million option goes through 13 acres of wetlands, threatens more acres for endangered plants, requires crossing both the canal and the ditch, but requires no building displacement.

The $29 million alternative requires no building displacement, requires only crossing the ditch, threatens less than one acre of threatened plant life, but would be adjacent to the north border of the Gateway Motorsports Park.

A $38 million option would require one building displacement only cross the ditch, cross fewer acres of wetlands, but would also be adjacent to the northern border of the Gateway Motorsports Parks.

“These can still be tweaked somewhat,” Stafford said.

The building that would be displaced is vacant and is going to be effected as part of other planned road improvements, Stafford said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife also may have some say over the final placement of the road, Stafford said.

“We’re trying to thread the needle at avoiding impacts, and impacts to these businesses,” Stafford said.

If funding was available, the soonest construction would be able to start would be three years, Stafford said.

Phase 1 engineering, which includes determining a preliminary design and figuring out environmental issues, is expected to be completed late next year or early 2017.

Then creating construction plans and land acquisition could take 18 to 24 months depending on the size of project, Stafford said.

IDOT also plans to make improvements along Exchange Avenue as part of the project.

Contact reporter Joseph Bustos at jbustos@bnd.com or 618-239-2451. Follow him on Twitter: @JoeBReporter.

To learn more about the project, go to idot.illinois.gov.

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