HUNTLEY – State and Huntley officials put a decades-long effort behind them Friday in celebratory fashion – complete with honking semitrucks, racing flags and ribbons – as they officially opened the new, full-access interchange to traffic.
Construction on the Route 47-Interstate 90 interchange, which opens Huntley's southern boundaries to both east and westbound interstate traffic, lasted 17 months, but the project's groundwork began in the late 1990s at the urging of Huntley officials.
On Friday, officials from the village, state and county praised their ability to come together, pull resources and fund the long-awaited project, before they stood with scissors in hand and cut a ribbon along the western entrance ramp to I-90.
"We've waited many years for this day to come," Village President Chuck Sass said. "Christmas has come early."
Sass credited the late Carl Tomaso, a former village manager, for the vision that made the interchange a reality. Tomaso's idea to have local groups secure funding and partner with larger statewide agencies ultimately allowed the interchange to be built, Sass said.
The Illinois Tollway Authority, Illinois Departmet of Transportation, McHenry and Kane counties, and Huntley all contributed money to project, which came under budget at $59 million total.
Since construction started, the Tollway, which oversaw the project, has touted Huntley's approach as the model for future interstate projects. The new interchange is the first project completed under the Tollway's "Move Illinois" program, a $12 billion infrastructure overhaul spanning 15 years.
Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur, state Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake; and state Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, all credited Huntley for taking the lead on the project and thanked the many agencies involved.
"It's exciting to be here and cut a ribbon on a project that means so much to Huntley," Tryon said.
After the ribbon was snipped, officials waived vehicles from local businesses near the interchange through the new western ramp with black-and-white racing flags.
Drivers from Dean Foods, Tom Peck Ford, General RV, Rohrer Corporation, LDI Industries, LionHeart Engineering, and FYH Bearings honked horns while passing through.
The new interchange includes six new ramps and a reconstructured Route 47 bridge. The old, eastbound-only interchange at Route 47 and I-90 was constructured in the early 1970s.
Huntley officials will now try to capitalize on the full-access interchange and attempt to draw manufacturers and industrial companies to area, as part of an effort to bolster the village's business sector. The village already has more than 300 acres zoned in the area for commercial and industrial use.