IDOT plans to further expand busy local highway

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

CARTERVILLE, Ill. - The Illinois Department of Transportation held a public meeting Wednesday afternoon from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at John A. Logan College in Carterville.

One of the main topics was the expansion of Illinois Route 13 through Williamson County.

Work started back in early 2010 to widen Illinois Route 13 to six lanes from the west side of Marion all the way to Carterville. Now, as much of that work is taking place, IDOT is shifting its focus to plan for further expansion of the highway, from Carterville to Carbondale.

Drivers in Williamson County are used to seeing orange barrels.

"I don't feel like it's too bad," said Molly Koester.

Piece by piece, the state's expanded Illinois Route 13 to six lanes. Work is finishing up on one portion west of Carterville. It's ongoing through Marion, and in between it hasn't started.

"We're in the initial design stages," said Doug Keirn, IDOT Programming Engineer.

Keirn said the agency is already planning to widen Illinois Route 13 between Carterville and Carbondale. There's currently no money for the work or land acquisition.

"We would like to have plans ready for when funding comes available. We can start this project as soon as we can," he said.

Keirn said public comment is welcome. Engineers must decide where to place frontage roads, how to design intersections, and what path to take when crossing Crab Orchard Lake.

"Phase one engineering can last up to two years. Then we do final construction plans which can last a year," he said.

Though the work is years away, residents like Molly Koester don't mind the continued construction on a highway the state says is highly traveled.

"A good roadway's always safer," she said.

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