JOLIET – At Tuesday’s leadership meeting of the Will County Board, Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider and Region One Engineer John Fortman reported on the status of three regional projects – the South Suburban Airport, the Illiana Expressway and the interchange of Interstate 55 and Weber Road.
Both stressed the importance of these projects to Will County, as well as northeastern Illinois.
“Transportation is Will County and Will County is transportation,” Will County Executive Larry Walsh said. “We are fortunate to have Secretary Schneider and Mr. Fortman here today to give us a detailed account of these projects. Will County has a large role in the global transportation market and these infrastructure projects are the key to keep us moving forward.”
Schneider presented an overview of plans for the South Suburban Airport, including the next steps in the Federal Aviation Administration’s review of the documents that will result in a record of decision on whether an airport is feasible.
“This approval will drive the development of this airport,” Schneider said. “We continue to work with willing sellers and we are close to having acquired 50 percent of the land in the inaugural footprint.”
Schneider said the airport is projected to be operational by 2019.
Walsh said he plans to create a local working group to organize the county’s role in the process to develop the South Suburban Airport. This group will be expanded to include other stakeholders as the project progresses.
He said he and County Board Speaker Herb Brooks Jr. share the same vision for this project.
“It is critical Will County be at the table throughout the creation of this airport,” Brooks said. “This airport will be entirely within our county borders and we must remain diligent in our representation of the residents in this area.”
Schneider said the Illiana Expressway, a 47-mile roadway connecting I-55 in Illinois with I-65 in Indiana, is number two on the regional project list for IDOT.
A public hearing on this project is anticipated for November 2013.
Fortman outlined plans for an expanded interchange at I-55 and Weber Road in Northwest Will County. This interchange has been noted as one of the busiest in the state.
“We have plans for a public hearing in October of this year,” Fortman said. “This project will be entering into the design phase.
Walsh added, “It is important our board members and our residents have all the available information. These projects will be great economic engines for Will County and we need to have the support of all the stakeholders involved.”