Southland road projects could be halted by budget impasse

Southland road projects could be halted by budget impasse

The $104 million widening of 159th Street through Homer Glen and Orland Park is already behind schedule, but is in danger of falling even further behind if the state legislature fails to act on a stopgap budget before the end of June.

Likewise, road improvements on LaGrange Road, through Orland Park’s shopping district, may also come to a screeching halt, thanks to the budget impasse.

“It’s aggravating,” said Homer Glen Mayor George Yukich, after meeting Friday with state Sen. Christine Radogno and Rep. Jim Durkin, the two Republican leaders who have sponsored appropriations bills in their respective chambers, which Gov. Bruce Rauner has supported.

“They told us they don’t know which way the vote will go,” Yukich said, fearing that if it’s not approved, the construction project may not resume until next year.

The Illinois Department of Transportation issued a statement recently saying it has begun to inform its industry partners that “all of our projects in both construction and engineering phases will be shutting down starting June 30 due to the majority party in the legislature’s failure to pass a balanced budget.”

“There will be no interruption in our projects and programs if the General Assemblyreturns to Springfield and passes House Bill 6585/Senate Bill 3435,” IDOT said in the statement, calling it a “fiscally responsible solution.”

In Cook, Will, DuPage, McHenry, Kane and Lake counties, $665.5 million in projects could be impacted.

Utility work began over a year ago on 159th Street, through Homer Glen and Orland Park, which is being widened from two to four lanes from Interstate 355 at Gougar Road to just west of LaGrange Road, with drainage improvements, sidewalks and street lights. The project was initially scheduled to be completed in 2017, but Yukich figures that it may now take another year.

“Business owners aren’t freaking out yet. They still have access,” he said.

“If they don’t pass this now, I have no idea when they would act on it. Everyone has to work together and no one is working together,” Yukich said.

Will County’s own projects will still move forward, but roadwork being handled by the state in the county could be stopped, said Jeff Ronaldson, assistant county engineer.

In a statement, Rauner said, “Transportation is one of the cornerstones of our state’s economy,” and strengthening IDOT is one of his “top priorities.”

The stopgap funding measure will “allow important projects and programs to continue past June 30 without interruption (and) will keep IDOT’s summer construction program moving forward without delay,” he said.

Steve Brown, press secretary for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, blasted Rauner and IDOT, saying, “Their strategy is to create panic.”

Other projects that could be halted include:

•The widening of LaGrange Road to three lanes in each direction, with a landscaped median from approximately 131st Street to 179th Street. Orland Park can continue with its landscaping work, but some of that is contingent on coordinating with subcontractors on the project so village officials are unsure how much they can accomplish.

•The addition of turn lanes at the intersection of 151st and Harlem Avenue, including a right-turn lane on southbound Harlem for traffic going westbound onto 151, and an additional left-turn lane for eastbound traffic on 151 turning onto northbound Harlem.

•Reconstruction of a mile-long stretch of University Parkway, from the Metra station to Crawford Avenue, in front of Governors State University, in University Park.

•Additional lanes on U.S. 30 from Interstate 55 to Illinois 59 in Joliet/Plainfield.

•Bridge replacement on Torrence Avenue over the Grand Calumet River.

•Construction of a new alignment on Exchange Street in Crete.

•Reconstruction of the I- 55 and U.S. 41 interchange in Chicago.

•Construction of the Interstate 90/94 to Interstate 290 flyover bridge.

•Bridge rehabilitation and added auxiliary lanes at Illinois 171 at I-55 in Cook County

•Bridge repairs on Interstate 80 and various other locations over the Des Plaines River in Joliet.

•Drainage improvements, curb and gutter replacements along Route 7 in Lockport.

•Construction of 95th Street in Naperville/Bolingbrook, from Plainfield-Naperville Road to Boughton Road.

slafferty@tribpub.com

Frank S. Abderholden also contributed.

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