BLOOMINGTON — The location of a proposed eastside highway has been narrowed to two alternatives and engineers want to hear from the public on which they prefer.

Jerry Payonk of the Champaign engineering firm of Clark Dietz will give two updates on the project during a public information meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Normal Community High School. Identical presentations will be at 6:10 and 7:10 p.m.

Exhibits of the proposed locations — one is a half-mile east of Towanda Barnes Road and the other a mile east of Towanda Barnes Road and follows County Road 2000 — will be on display. Project representatives will be available to answer questions.

Those attending will receive information about the impact each alternative would have on current surroundings, and will be asked to complete forms detailing why they like or dislike an option. The comments will be used to help determine the “preferred option” and will be included with information sent to the Federal Highway Administration in September.

Forms must be submitted by July 3. They also will be available at

Payonk said the FHA and federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Natural Resources, will review the submitted material — including public comments — and decide whether they concur with the “preferred option.”

FHA approval is needed for the project, which has been under study twice. The most recent study started in July 2010.

Since the last public meeting in January 2012, Payonk said a committee of public works leaders has eliminated a proposed connection of Northtown Road to Interstate 55.

“It impacted wetlands and crosses Interstate 55 at a skew instead of a 90-degree angle,” Payonk said. “It also goes over Route 66 and three rails for high-speed rail.”

That leaves Ziebarth Road as the remaining northern connection. The southern connection to Interstate 74 would be halfway between Downs and U.S. 51.

Since January 2012, Payonk said the locations of the two proposed primary routes have been fine-tuned to determine how many businesses, homes, farmland and other things would be affected.

“One option impacts more businesses; one impacts more homes,” he said.

The packet will include that information and a table showing environmental resources within the proposed corridors, he said.

It was previously determined that the best way to address the traffic expected to use the eastside highway would be to build the road to freeway standards, with on- and off-access through ramps.

The 12-mile project is eyed to alleviate future traffic congestion on other north-south roads, such as Veterans Parkway, when Twin City growth spreads further east. Construction cost has been estimated between $200 million and $300 million and currently is not funded.


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