Key commission OKs proposed Illiana Expressway

A northwest Indiana planning board has voted in favor of a proposed Illiana Expressway that would connect Interstate 65 near Lowell with Interstate 55 south of Chicago.

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission voted Thursday in favor of the 47-mile-long tollway, The Times of Munster reported. That move clears the way for the proposal to be submitted for final federal approvals. The plan previously had been approved by a similar Illinois board.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn both support the project, saying it would promote economic development. Critics maintain the $1.3 billion road would have minimal impact on economic development and is too costly.

Officials say if the project gets the needed federal approvals, work could begin as early as 2015.

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