Proposed Marengo interchange moves toward County Board

MARENGO – City officials could soon embark on critical negotiations with various local governments that would bring a proposed interchange at Route 23 and Interstate 90 in Marengo closer to reality.

But hurdles remain before officials reach that point. First and foremost, a proposed engineering agreement that would have McHenry County contribute $289,600 to cover interchange design costs needs to clear the County Board.

The agreement could be introduced at the county’s transportation committee as early as mid-October, Marengo City Administrator Gary Boden said.

In an early indicator on the fate of the project, the full County Board earlier this month approved a resolution on a 19-4 vote that voiced general support for a Marengo interchange, which would be the county’s first.

“The county now is at the point where we recognize they’re going to contribute to this financially,” Boden said. “The question now is how much.”

The engineering agreement with the county, if approved, would complete about 30 percent of the design work to Marengo’s long-sought interchange. The city already has committed about the same cost – $289,600 – to the design.

Once that work is completed, the Illinois Tollway Authority would finalize the design, and the city could simultaneously begin negotiating with other local governments on funding the local portion of the estimated $60 million interchange, Boden said.

For the past two years, Marengo officials have been positioning themselves for an interchange, annexing thousands of acres and expanding its southern boundaries to reach Route 23 and I-90 and take the formal lead on the project.

Officials have said a full interchange that opens the interstate to Marengo could greatly expand the city’s economy.

Both the Tollway and the Illinois Department of Transportation have supported the project, as the Tollway already was planning to reconstruct the Route 23 bridge over I-90 for its ongoing widening of the Jane Adams Memorial Tollway.

The early support from the state-wide transportation agencies is encouraging, said McHenry County Administrator Peter Austin.

“The Tollway wants to get this done. IDOT wants to get this done. ... At the county level, we are a little short on the details, but generally, the County Board is supportive,” he said. “But the details are coming.”

The details would include how many local agencies would contribute to the project and at what cost. Those negotiations will likely start later this year if the engineering agreement passes, Boden said.

“Right now, we are still at a concept level,” Boden said. “Next month, the project will probably be a lot more definitive in its focus.”

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