The aptly named “Bridge to Nowhere” in Ketchikan, Alaska, helped make “earmark” a dirty word – in Washington, D.C., and across the country.
But before some politicians tried to gouge taxpayers with superfluous projects in their home districts just to earn a few votes, many earmarks actually have benefited the public at large.
Take the Algonquin Western Bypass project. Funded in part by federal earmarks, the $33.3 million project to alleviate congestion in downtown Algonquin finally has begun after decades in the making.
The Western Bypass will be a new, divided four-lane road along Route 31, from just north of Cary Road to Edgewood Drive. Portions of Huntington Drive, Algonquin Road and the existing Route 31 will be widened and resurfaced to accommodate the alignment. An interchange will be built between the new segment of Route 31 and Route 62.
Work on the bypass began in May, but the major grading began last week. Lane closures have begun on Algonquin Road between Main Street and Meyer Drive. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2014, and will be a boon to the entire region.
Credit for finally securing the money to do the project is shared among dozens of people. We can’t possibly name them all, but we do want to recognize a couple.
We’ll start with U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, who began fighting for the bypass practically the moment he first was elected to Congress in 1992. The Algonquin bypass might, in fact, be Manzullo’s swan song. He is leaving Congress at the end of the year after losing a primary battle to U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger after state Democratic leaders redistricted the two Republicans into a single district.
We’ll also thank the late Bill Dwyer, a former McHenry County Board member who also helped found the McHenry County Road Coalition. During a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, Dwyer’s name was mentioned dozens of times for his work on pushing the project forward.
As we’ve said, we can’t possibly name everyone who helped make the bypass project a reality. But we will say it’s an excellent example of local, state, and federal officials, from both political parties, working together with a common vision to accomplish something that benefits the entire public.
Important things can get done in Springfield and Washington if our elected leaders simply work together.
We’ll take a break from our usual criticism today and offer our congratulations. In this case, it’s certainly warranted.