McHenry County Board members on Tuesday adopted a measure giving the OK on resolutions related to the funding of a $32 million Interstate 90 and Route 23 interchange project, which proponents say will create an economic windfall for the county and city of Marengo. The project will be a partnership between the county, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and the Illinois Department of Transportation.
A study in June showed that the plan could generate between $538 million to more than $1.7 billion in economic impact to the area, although some board members are concerned it won’t be as successful as hoped.
“I think many people in Marengo are expecting this to be a magic bullet to sustain Marengo in the short term,” said Mary McCann, R-Woodstock. “It’s a long-term process.”
McCann said that despite her reservations, she wanted to support the communities in her district. The resolutions – one to approve how the costs will be divided up and one to authorize an intergovernmental agreement with Marengo to hire an engineering firm – passed with only one no vote, from Diane Evertsen, R-Harvard.
“I understand there are some of us that look at this as a potential boon to the city of Marengo,” Evertsen said. “The Motorola plant was supposed to be a kind of salvation of Harvard, too, and that’s been a struggle for years. … I don’t see how this is going to do much outside the confines of Marengo, where we don’t have water or sewer, let alone anything else.”
The 1.51 million-square-foot Motorola plant at 2001 N. Division St. in Harvard was built in 1997, but has sat vacant since 2003. It was sold this spring to an unnamed bidder for $9.3 million.
But Nick Provenzano, R-McHenry, who will step down from his seat Wednesday, said the two weren’t equal comparisons.
“That was a decision by a private entity,” he said. “This is an opportunity that I think will have significant impact. … This is a way to reduce the burden on residential property taxes by growing our economy. It’s something we have studied and talked about for decades.”
Project bids are expected to be out in the fall. The tollway authority plans to rebuild the overpass next year, and the construction of the on and off ramps will follow. McHenry County has incorporated the project into its 2016 to 2020 transportation plan.