Illinois governor takes rare trip to local area

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill. - Illinois Governor Pat Quinn made a trip downstate on Monday. The governor broke ground on a more than $10 million expansion project for Interstate 57.

The road will now become six lanes from Marion, six miles north to Johnston City.

Much of the hype over Monday's announcement wasn't the construction project but rather Governor Quinn coming to southern Illinois in the first place.

The governor was supposed to make a stop in Marion back in May, but he cancelled at the last minute.

"I was going to be here a couple months ago. There was a business opening up, and we had the pension issue in Springfield come up," he said.

Monday it was a different story. The governor said a multi-million dollar expansion for Interstate 57 is worth the trip.

"The best way to help the people is investing in public works. And that's what we're doing in southern Illinois," he said.

Plans call for an additional lane on a six-mile stretch of the interstate. The long-term goal is to widen Interstate 57 all the way to Interstate 64 at Mount Vernon.

A rough price tag for the whole job is about $300 million. The state's doing the work piece by piece.

"We're particularly concerned about making our transportation second to none," said Quinn.

Marion, Illinois Mayor Bob Butler said he appreciates the governor coming to southern Illinois.

"I think sometimes we feel that we are neglected, and maybe he smoothed that over a little bit," said Butler, "It emphasizes the importance that the state and governor place on this project."

IDOT engineers said work will begin on the expansion July 22nd, next Monday.

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