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Illinois, Indiana governors host expressway forum

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Governors from Illinois and Indiana kicked off a two-day forum Monday in hopes of attracting potential contractors, laborers and investors for a planned 47-mile expressway aimed at relieving traffic congestion into the Chicago area and creating jobs.

The proposed highway linking the two states has been discussed for decades, and both states agreed to move forward in 2010. The proposed route will go from Interstate 55 near Willington, Ill., to Interstate 65 in Indiana. Land acquisition and construction could start in 2015, and construction for the project is expected to take about three years.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence both billed the so-called Illiana Expressway as a way to create jobs. Officials estimate the expressway will bring roughly 9,000 construction jobs and about 25,000 more permanent jobs.

"This is a vital link," Quinn told the crowd. "It's about logistics. It's about distribution. It's about covering the Heartland."

Several hundred people, including officials with the Federal Highway Administration, attended. The event was scheduled to end Tuesday afternoon after presentations from transportation officials in both states and one-on-one meetings for the roughly $1.3 billion project.

The governors said it's also a way to stimulate economic growth.

"Our nation will not achieve our full potential in the 21st century if we don't relight the pilot light of the industrial Midwest," Pence said. "... And the Illiana is central to putting the Midwest back at the very center of American prosperity."

Supporters, including a truckers' association, have said the route is needed to increase access to the region. However, some opponents argue that the project will cut up farm land and affect wild life, among other things.

But Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said the project will include solutions for environmental issues. She said that up to 50 percent of the traffic on the expressway will be trucks, which will relieve congestion on local roads.

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  • From where to where?
    I'm guessing they meant "Wilmington, IL" not "Willington". But where would it connect to I-65 in Indiana? And where would all the traffic go then?
  • Build the Wall!
    Oh wonderful. More pavement the state won't be able to maintain due to cost issues. Why would anyone do business with the state of Illinois. Instead of highways connecting us, let's build a border fence along the Illinois state line to keep "those Illinois people" out.
  • Said Quinn, "It's about covering the Heartland [in pavement]."
  • Proofread
    Someone from Associated Propaganda wrote it.
  • Who writes this stuff?
    "Ann Schneider said the project will only improve make improvements and include solutions for environmental issues. She said that up to 50 percent of the traffic on the expressway will be trucks, which will relieve congestion on local roads and improve."

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  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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