MARENGO – City officials are confident that the Illinois Tollway Authority will make a formal commitment to an interchange sometime after initial planning begins in May on reconstructing the Route 23 bridge over Interstate 90.
The confidence boost comes after City Administrator Gary Boden and Marengo’s engineers from HR Green recently met with tollway officials and the Illinois Department of Transportation about the possibility of an I-90 interchange, which Marengo has long coveted.
“We feel a lot more confident that an interchange will come,” Boden said. “Although without formal recognition, we feel likely that the bridge will be built to accommodate an interchange. That’s a big move right there.”
The tollway needs to reconstruct the Route 23 bridge as part of the widening of I-90 from Elgin to Rockford. Marengo officials have always considered the Route 23 bridge project as a stepping stone to a full interchange meant to transform the city’s economy.
During their recent meeting, state transportation officials indicated that Marengo engineers would need to develop a rough bridge design by May and that the project could accommodate a future interchange, Boden said.
The Route 23 bridge reconstruction is expected to start sometime in 2015.
Once the rough design and additional traffic studies are submitted this spring, city officials would then start more formal discussions with the tollway and state transportation department about the timeline of an interchange and the resources needed to fund it, Boden said.
More detailed traffic studies could determine that an interchange might not be needed in Marengo immediately upon construction of the Route 23 bridge in 2015, Boden said.
The city’s discussions with the tollway and others after this spring will help define an interchange timeline, he said. The rough bridge design in May should also trigger negotiations with state and local shareholders, including McHenry County, on the money needed to build an interchange.
“We’ve gotten over the hurdle of whether an interchange will happen,” Boden said. “We now have more of a point of when – at least that’s what it appears.”