Governor Pat Quinn Friday released $35 million of state money to begin paving the Macomb Bypass that will route drivers northwest of town.
The six-mile bypass will connect US 136 west of Macomb to US 67 North.
“It is a way to bypass congestion, reduce pollution, and make sure people are safe and sound and get our goods to market and our people to their destination,” Quinn said while making the announcement at the Spoon River College Community Outreach Center in Macomb.
The funding is enough to pave two lanes of the planned four-lane bypass. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) emphasized the full bypass will eventually be paved. He said there will be a request for more money for the project in the next capital bill.
“Alright, we are going to pave two lanes not four,” Cullerton said. “Do you think we would spend $70-million to grate it and not pave it? No, of course we are going to pave it.”
Mayor Mike Inman said paving two lanes of the bypass is a step in the right direction. He hopes state lawmakers, including those from western Illinois, hold to their commitment to complete the project.
"We've heard multiple people commit to us today that this is just the first phase in a multiphase (project) that will eventually make this a four lane, divided, controlled access bypass which is what we all desire here," Inman said. "I'm encouraged by that."
Inman said he expects complete construction of the Macomb Bypass project will cost upwards of $160 million.
Kensil Garnett with the Illinois Department of Transportation said there will be a request for bids for construction of the two lanes next spring. Those two lanes will open by late 2016 or early 2017.
Garnett said it's likely those lanes would remain open through construction of the two additional lanes.