Last week the Will County Board authorized a $1.8 million study to establish Laraway Road as the the next east-west corridor between Route 52 and Harlem Avenue. The plan calls for widening the road from two to four lanes.
The total cost of the project has not yet been determined; however, it will take several years to complete. Although the project is far from shovel ready, village officials in the Lincoln-Way communities are excited at the prospect.
New Lenox Village Engineer Will Nash said a project like this is a seen as an economic boon for the Lincoln-Way communities. These kinds of projects are planned in preparation for anticipated demographic changes. The Lincoln-Way communities are expected to grow significantly in residential, commercial and industrial use over the next several years, and the road widening project is proof that the transportation officials recognize the need to accommodate the increase in traffic.
He likened the Laraway Corridor to the current Route 30 Corridor project. Laraway Road is important because it ties together the traffic flow between Interstate 80 and Route 57.
Speaking of the Will County Department of Highways' planning staff, he said, "They realize that that's going to be huge, and it will be great for New Lenox, Mokena and Frankfort."
Laraway Road will become another thoroughfare for east-west traffic.
Frankfort Assistant Village Administrator Rob Piscia said the study should take about two years. It's there that the necessary right-of-ways are identified along with wetlands and endangered species. The purchase of property, wetlands delineation and due diligence when it comes to protecting endangered species are steps in the total process.
All of that comes into play when planning for a major corridor. "I think it's great that Will County is taking the lead to get the process going."
Having the infrastructure in-place in a timely manner speaks well of the County Highway Department, he said. The project coincides with the Go to 2040 urban plan that was first advanced in 2010 by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP.) The Go To 2040 plan is part of an overall urban planning effort for the Chicago Metropolitan Region, including economic development, resources, air quality, labor force and demographics to name a few.
As for the potential for federal dollars and overall funding for the Laraway Corridor, Piscia there will be some tugs in opposite directions. He mentioned that the Illiana Corridor is already two years into that project, which is intended to bring Illinois and Indiana together to build the Illiana Expressway, connecting I-55 from south of Joliet to I-65 near Lowell, Ind.
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