Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chambers Meet with Illinois Secretary of Transportation Ann Schneider

A contingent of staff and volunteers from area Chambers met on February 5th with Secretary Schneider to discuss the long standing regional road priorities list. Brent Eichelberger, Commerce Bank; Rich Kriegsman, KMI; Bob Gates, Federal Companies; and Tom Lucek, CityLink joined Bill Fleming, Executive Director of the Pekin Area Chamber and Roberta Parks, President of the Peoria Area Chamber in this meeting. The delegation was speaking on behalf of the Chillicothe, East Peoria, Morton, Pekin, Peoria and Washington Chambers concerning the “regional road priorities list” developed and endorsed by all the Chambers.

Secretary Schneider was complimentary of the unified voice the region puts forward when this type of collaborative work is done. Significant discussion took place about the need for continued funding in this year’s capital plan for the Eastern Bypass. This project is currently in the Phase One study which focuses on corridor selection and alignment. The current funding is adequate to get the study through most if not all of corridor selection but does not support the alignment identification. The group indicated that stopping this project even temporarily could be enough to end it permanently.

Secretary Schneider acknowledged the District 4 IDOT office has recommended additional funding for this project in their requests for the coming capital program, but no final decisions have been made. She spoke about the reduced amount of funding for next year’s program and the need for maintenance of roads and bridges. It is likely that will be prioritized higher than new construction.

It was noted that the investment in this region would be highly leveraged given all the other things that are and have happened recently in Central Illinois – the Peoria Riverfront Museum and Caterpillar Visitors Center, the very significant retail expansion in East Peoria, the anticipated changes in Caterpillar’s presence in Downtown Peoria, the potential riverfront development in Pekin, etc. The group extended an invitation to Secretary Schneider to come and visit Greater Peoria to see the impact and the potential in this region. She indicated a strong interest in doing that, and the Chambers will follow up with her in the near future.

The Chambers’ regional road priority list has been a collaborative project for at least 18 years. The list contains road projects that are important to the entire region. It is updated by the Chambers every two to three years, and presented to area legislators, and IDOT officials.

The road priority list can be found at:  http://www.pekinchamber.com/Transportation.htm
 

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