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6/28/2013 2:43:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
IDOT meeting looks at U.S. 50 project's impact on RHSP
SUMNER - When the U.S. 50 Expressway project comes through Red Hills State Park, the road will veer to the south to protect the habitat of an endangered species.

Illinois Department of Transportation personnel were at Trace Inn restaurant late Thursday afternoon to explain the highway expansion project's potential impact on the park and how it be handled when construction begins.

Greg Jamerson, IDOT interim program development engineer, explained preliminary plans for the park and how those plans not only minimize impact to the north and south sections of the park, but improve traffic flow.

"We're going to provide a lot better access to the north. We're going to punch the existing south entrance up to the north existing road. We're going to close off the existing entrance that's over on the east side. So it's all going to be in one spot instead of spread out," Jamerson said, adding that the proposal also calls for a maintenance road underneath U.S. Route 50 for park personnel for maintenance, meaning workers will not have to cross live traffic to get between the north and south portions of the park.

One of the biggest things IDOT personnel are looking at is a result of an environmental study that turned up a habitat for an Illinois endangered species. 

"We're talking about a four-toed salamander. We found it on the north side," Jamerson said, explaining that the road will be shifted to the south.

"We're going to shift the expressway to the south to preserve that habitat. So what that does is that created a little bit of an issue with the land that IDOT owns and the land that IDNR owns. We're basically going to swap seven to eight acres on the north side that we (IDOT) own to the south side. So basically it's going to be an even swap for us and IDNR."

Jamerson said IDOT is also looking at how the expansion will impact an eight-mile horse trail. There are proposals to re-route the horse trail.

Phase one of the U.S. 50 Expressway project will turn a 27-mile stretch of U.S. Route 50 , from 2.5 miles west of Illinois Route 30 to 3.5 miles east of Route 1 into a four-lane highway. Basically the project calls for expanding the highway from east of Lawrenceville to west of Olney.

In 2010, the Illinois General Assembly appropriated $5 million for the expansion of U.S. 50 and included funds for preliminary engineering in Richland and Lawrence counties. Phase 1 engineering studies include environmental impact studies, detailed traffic and land use studies and preliminary engineering studies.

The entire scope of the project calls for U.S. Route 50 to become four lane through Illinois.

and link to Interstate 64, just east of St. Louis.


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