Marengo looks for formal commitment from Tollway on interchange

MARENGO – City officials this week will hand the Illinois Tollway Authority conceptual designs and other materials regarding a proposed interchange as they look to secure a formal commitment from the agency later this winter.

The Marengo City Council throughout this year has annexed thousands of acres within Riley Township to extend the city’s southern boundaries and take the formal lead in negotiating the estimated $60 million interchange at Route 23 and Interstate 90.

Now the city is preparing to take the next step in its planning process. The city is sending conceptual designs and a traffic analysis of the interchange to the Tollway this week for formal review, City Administrator Gary Boden said.

“The Tollway will have to make an initial decision on whether or not there is a project afoot here in the formal sense,” Boden said.

Marengo contracted HR Green, a McHenry engineering firm, earlier this summer to develop the designs and traffic study. The city also has asked the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to independently verify the work, Boden said.

The designs were meant to give the Tollway a sense of how a potential interchange would be built. The traffic study was intended to chart future demand an interchange would bring to the area.

The Tollway will use those materials in the coming months to do its own analysis of a potential interchange at Route 23 and I-90. Tollway officials then would decide whether to proceed with the project, Boden said.

The city is trying to meet with Tollway officials later this month to go over the decision-making process for the project. If the Tollway signs off, formal negotiations on funding the $60 million project could start by early next year, Boden said.

“We will get commitments on this, I expect, in the first quarter of next year,” Boden said.

A Tollway spokesman earlier this year said the agency has made more than $100 million available to communities along I-90 for new interchange construction as part of its ongoing I-90 widening project.

Tollway officials told Marengo earlier this spring that they needed to see conceptual designs by the end of the year to ensure they properly widen the Route 23 bridge over I-90 to accommodate a future interchange.

If the Tollway makes a formal commitment, the city then would look to negotiate with the Tollway, state transportation department and local governments, such as McHenry and DeKalb counties, on how to fund the project.

The city also may look to join with other local groups, but for now, officials are focused on securing a commitment to the project from the Tollway, Boden said.

“Right now, we don’t have a formal acknowledgement, not that we don’t anticipate one,” he said. “It’s still a little premature to do that. I don’t want to sell something that I don’t have.”

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