The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Groundbreaking Brings Hwy 34 Corridor Closer To Completion

Lobbying Efforts Of Students Recognized As Big Part Of By-Pass

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher

Construction for 6 miles of 4-lane around the West Central Schools and Biggsville was already underway by the William Charles, Contracting firm as IDOT officials hosted their ground breaking ceremony last Friday in Henderson County. State and local leaders and concerned citizens gave a short sigh of relief, but said while they can celebrate, we must push on until Hwy 34 is complete. Another step has been taken toward the completetion of a long awaited highway project that was put into action to move heavy truck traffic around schools to help with the safety of kids coming in and out of school and after school functions.

The project moves them closer in completing a 4-lane between Des Moines, Iowa and Peoria, Illinois.

Approximately 16 miles of US 34 2-lane will remain to complete the 4-lane project when this six mile by-pass is finished. The projected end date for the bypass is the fall of 2014.

Senator John Sullivan said, "We're here today because we all worked together." He mentioned the help of the late State Representative Rich Meyer in the final hours of the bill and also mentioned that, "absolutely, no one works harder than Tom Oakley (Tri-State Summit) of Quincy but, at the same time they were trying to get it passed," Sullivan said, "a group lobbied from West Central High School who were absolutely the most effective I've ever met, ...because they were there for the right reason."

Representative Jil Tracy has also worked hard to not let Illinois's Midwest lose out on transportation dollars for good roads, and all of us had to recognize and prioritize for safety and economics. "We're already talking about the new Capitol Bill, jobs and good roads to get across our state," Tracy said.

Tom Oakley of Tri-State Summit said their group has been working very hard pushing for safe four lane roads for smooth truck traffic that is so important to economic growth.

They have seen to completion, The Avenue of The Saints, and other four-lane projects and their two top priorities are the Macomb Bypass and US 34.

"You can be sure we are going to complete it." Oakley said.

There is only 16 miles left of .US 34 and everything is ready for the land acquisition once the money is approved. It was reminded that the longer they have waited the more costs soar. It took from 2003 to 2009 to get this passed and in that time the project costs have doubled in price.

"I wish the rest of the state could see how well our legislators work together here," said Schneider.

She also mentioned how very compassionate the Hwy 34 Coalition has been. We will complete the job within our budget and then look for funds for 16 more miles to finish the course. We are looking for the resources, Schneider said, "The Mississippi connects us to the world market place. The freight movment is very important. There is a tremendous amount of physical assets here which makes this a really thriving area."

Schneider said that 5,000 vehicles travel 34 a day and 1,000 of them are trucks between Monmouth and Burlington.

The project will include construction of nearly six miles of four-lane expressway, with three bridges, a new interchange at IL 94/IL 116, drainage improvements and earth embankment.

The $40.6 million project will relocate US 34 to south of Biggsville from 1.5 miles east of IL 164 to 1.9 miles east of IL 94.

Illinois Secretary of Transportation Ann Schneider, hosting a groundbreaking ceremony last Friday during the beginning of Construction on US 34's - 4 lane Biggsville Bypass. Guest speakers behind Ms. Schneider are from left: Julianna Gillam and Justin Allaman (WCHS graduates/US 34 Voices), Tom Oakley ( Tri-State Summit), Jil Tracy (IL State Representative), John Sullivan (IL State Senator) and Ralph Grimm (West Central Supt/US 34 Voices.