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State plans hearing on U.S. 30 widening

Pannier: ‘It may not happen in our lifetimes’

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

MORRISON – Choosing a route for a four-lane U.S. Route 30 could be in the state’s sights. 

The state has long planned to widen the highway between Rock Falls and Fulton. Officials say the current U.S. 30 is not equipped to handle existing traffic levels, calling the 20-mile stretch of road unsafe.

The project has received $8.2 million in federal and state dollars for design and engineering. 

In an email last week, the state Department of Transportation informed Morrison Mayor Everett Pannier that it planned to hold a public hearing this year on the project. After that, it would get some additional sign-offs on the project and then select a route.

The state is looking at alternative routes, including those north and south of Morrison.

In 2008, the City Council endorsed the southern route, saying it would fit better in the city’s long-term comprehensive plan.

Pannier, who took office last year, said the southern route makes sense, because that’s where the industrial park is.

When the project actually gets on the state’s 5-year plan for road improvements, he said, is anyone’s guess.

“We all kind of feel that it may not happen in our lifetimes,” Pannier said. 

Some business owners in Morrison fear they’ll lose customers if the state pushes traffic outside of town. The state says it will try to lessen any problems for businesses resulting from a bypass, but has conceded that some will suffer.

Pannier also recently asked the state about the status of the project to resurface state Route 78 from the French Creek bridge to U.S. 30.

The state is just beginning preparations for that project, an official said. 

“That one is complicated because of all of the crosswalks involved in that part of town and the need to have all of the crosswalks ADA-compliant,” Department of Transportation community liaison Steve Wilkins said in an email. 

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