Expanded I-57 interchange gets support from Illinois Sen. Dick D - WPSD Local 6: Your news, weather, and sports authority

Expanded I-57 interchange gets support from Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin

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BENTON, IL -

Folks in Benton-West City, Illinois, are trying to create a safer ride for you and your family with the expansion of an I-57 interchange.

City leaders want to add a new exit north of Benton on Petroff Road and a new collector distributor road along the interstate, with hopes of making Benton Town Square safer for families.

About 11,000 vehicles a day travel through the Town Square, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. About 3,000 of those are semis.

Dave Cooper is the executive director for Benton-West City Economic Development Corporation. He says the new interchange would reduce truck traffic by 25 to 30 percent, making the conditions safer for drivers.

The project has already been approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. That means they can build it, but Cooper says they need Sen. Dick Durbin's help to find the money for it.

"The fact that we need to search for money on this project now, we're looking at him for help: showing the need of this project, the benefits of this project. And, hopefully, he can steer us in the right direction to get money for starting this," says Cooper.

In a meeting Monday, Durbin mentioned a few federal funding opportunities, like tiger grants and fast lane competitive grants, which city leaders can apply for.

"There are lots of possibilities here," says Durbin. "The good news is you got your act together, and you've got to start with that. If you don't have that, you'll get nowhere. So, you've got a good starting point on that."

It costs about $25 million to complete the first phase of the project and another $25 million for the second phase.

In 2008, the city invested $350,000 into a study on the benefits of an expanded interchange. The study showed it would not only reduce semi traffic in Benton's town square, but it could also reduce interstate accidents by about 14 percent and would make it easier for ambulance drivers to get to Franklin Hospital.

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