Marengo details vision 
of interchange, growth

MARENGO – Unlike its suburban neighbors, Marengo would be transformed into a self-reliant city filled with industrial and commercial development under an expansion outline presented Monday.

But transforming a rural community into an atypical suburb is predicated on the city’s ability to court the Illinois Tollway Authority to build an interchange at Route 23 and Interstate 90.

“In this plan, we are more about a more rounded, a more evolved, a more independent city type of development,” City Manager Gary Boden told about 15 residents in a joint meeting with the City Council and Plan Commission.

The residents were there for an update on the city’s plan to expand west and south. In a similar meeting in July, city officials formally revealed their desires and established a time line.

On Monday, representatives from HR Green, the city’s engineering firm, detailed what kind of development is suitable for the city’s expansion, based on environmental and geographical research conducted since July. The firm identified opportunities for regional light industry, industries such as food processing that require large amounts of water and retail development in an area west of Route 23 and south toward I-90.

HR Green has been contracted to turn a framework into a conceptual plan, and meet with other government entities that are needed to finance the city’s end goal: an interchange at Route 23 and I-90.

The City Council approved the contracts totaling about $44,000 in a second meeting Monday.

Boden and Mayor Donald Lockhart said that based on conversations officials are having with tollway officials, the city is confident it can expand its limits to I-90, build an interchange and attract job-producing industries,

The tollway, Boden said, has informed the city that nearly $125 million will be available, possibly as early as next year, for interchange construction along the I-90 corridor between Chicago and Rockford.

Much as Huntley did, officials from the city and HR Green will reach out to neighbors such as McHenry County, Dekalb County and Northern Illinois University to gauge interest in funding an interchange.

Construction of a full, $69 million Route 47/I-90 interchange started this summer in Huntley, after officials tried for nearly a decade to get the tollway authority to build one. Construction already has drawn two small industries to the area.

Boden told residents a Marengo interchange would cost between $55 million and $60 million, with local agencies and the tollway authority splitting costs 50-50. The proposed interchange would be McHenry County’s only direct access point to an interstate.

Unlike Huntley, Marengo also will meet with about 10 homeowners who live along Route 23 to talk about being annexed into the city limits. If successful, the city would be able to extend its limits to I-90 and present a more convincing argument for an interchange to the tollway authority.

“Without this interchange, the likelihood of this development doesn’t exist,” 2nd Ward Alderman Corey Brackmann said.

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