Sorensen: Businesses should back east-side highway

2012-10-04T18:23:00Z 2012-10-04T19:42:54Z Sorensen: Businesses should back east-side highwayBy Lenore Sobota |

BLOOMINGTON — McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen called for more vocal support from businesses for construction of an east-side highway.

“The project needs the support of the local business community,” Sorensen told those attending the McLean County Chamber of Commerce’s State of McLean County meeting Thursday morning.

Charlie Moore, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, said after the meeting that the chamber’s board has had discussions on the highway project, but has not taken a stand on it.

“We endorsed the further study” of the project, Moore said, including the needs assessment. He expects the matter to return to the board as it progresses.

Sorensen told the gathering that, while there is room for debate on where the highway should go and how many lanes it should have, “in my opinion, there is no room for debate on the need. The need is there.”

He said, “We’re not looking at a solution to a problem in 2012. We’re looking at a project to solve a problem in 2040 and beyond.”

Also speaking at the event were Bloomington Mayor Steve Stockton and Normal Mayor Chris Koos, who gave generally upbeat assessments of their cities emerging from the recession.

Sorensen was a bit more pessimistic, noting that county government does not have the same resources — such as sales tax revenue — that Bloomington and Normal have as home-rule cities. Instead, county government relies primarily on real estate taxes and, “for the first time since 1985, overall assessed valuation is going down in the county,” he said.

Stockton pointed positively to progress being made with road resurfacing and other infrastructure improvement in Bloomington.

Looking forward, Stockton said it’s important to add wells to diversify and expand the city’s water system, which the mayor described as “essentially a regional system” that already supplies water to Hudson, Towanda, parts of Bloomington Township and larger users in Normal, such as Mitsubishi Motors North America and AdvocateBroMenn Regional Medical Center.

Koos cited a “healthy increase” in construction activity among signs that Normal is recovering from the recession.

He said improvements in uptown Normal have “been more than we hoped for” and called the projects “another example of the community working on a common cause for the common good.”

Koos said the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center is doing better than expected and the Uptown Crossing building, anchored by CVS, just filled its last vacancy.

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(11) Comments

  1. onewhowonders
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    onewhowonders - October 11, 2012 7:49 am
    Oh Matt..
    So you think Business in Blo- Mor should support bypassing travelers around the towns...

  2. NormalNews
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    NormalNews - October 10, 2012 10:24 am
    Can someone please tell me what is wrong with Mr. Sorenson and those who want an unneeded highway. There is already an interstate from Chicago to Champaign. It is called Interstate 57. If you are too lazy to use a previously built and paid for highway, maybe you should not be driving. Mr. Sorenson, please listen to the taxpayers!
  3. Lbomb
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    Lbomb - October 08, 2012 9:11 pm
    I agree with you people but guess what. Our opinion dont matter. Its all about the money. Politicians cannot say no to it...kind alike drugs. They are addicted to OPM (other people's money)
  4. 3bears
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    3bears - October 06, 2012 8:44 am
    The public and the business community on the east side of Bloomington-Normal has spoken loud and clear. They are 100% opposed to this $350 million boondoggle. There have been several public hearings on this topic and there is noone in favor of it. There is not one person at the Harvest Pointe, The Grove, Eagle View subdivisions on the east side of Towanda Barnes Road, and the towns of Towanda and Downs, that is supportive of this unneeded highway, beltway, bypass, or whatever name they are using this month to call it. You ask businesses to come forth, I am both a farmer and businessman, how do you think the farmers or current homeowners who are directly or closely affected by this proposed road feel? I'll tell you exactly how they feel. There is a no build option. Choose it. That should be the only choice made. I have a question for Mr. Sorensen, would he be supportive of a road that destroys his house where his family resides and ruin his farm that has been part of his family for over a century? I am waiting for his answer. I think the public and farmers, landowners have spoken loud and clear. Stop the nonsense. No road is needed.
  5. PM_Bloomington
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    PM_Bloomington - October 05, 2012 9:32 pm
    I appreciate the above comments to this article. Matt Sorensen did not sufficiently explain in the article why business should endorse this highway. Very few people are in favor of the ESH, and I was surprised that Matt actually stated his support for it. Matt seems like a smart guy, but is apparently uninformed. The study is being conducted by engineering firm Clark-Dietz out of Champaign. C-D has developed working groups to provide input -- but then never listened to or considered their ideas. C-D has determined that we now have two choices for the ESH -- one a half mile East of Towanda-Barnes, the other a mile East of T-B. C-D has determined that this bypass will be a FREEWAY. In January, C-D was unaware the road was going to run through neighborhood Harvest Pointe. Bloomington has more freeways in to, out of, and around it than most cities. At a staggering cost of $300,000,000, a freeway of little or no value will likely not get approval for federal (and certainly not state) funding.
  6. Turner Joy
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    Turner Joy - October 05, 2012 3:22 pm
    Just how much traffic coming from the Chicago area to the north goes from I-55 to I- 74 eastbound? And how much traffic coming from the Champaign area to the east takes I-55 north? Perhaps I'm wrong but I doubt that either of these flows amount to much. I-57 already connects the Champaign area to Chicagoland. Then we are left with local commuters. Towanda-Barnes seems adequate for that until we see some large employer either expanding significantly or locating new on the east side I don't understand why Sorensen is pushing this. Is some developer or landowner whispering in his ear?
  7. 61705
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    61705 - October 05, 2012 8:07 am
    I can't think of one business in Bloomington/Normal that will benefit from this highway, but I can name a whole bunch that it will hurt. No one heading south will stop in Bloomington/Normal if this bypass goes in, they will just pass the city by... Until all the truck stops, cheap hotels and fast food restaurants are forced to open locations along this new corridor, gobbling up more farmland along the way. We do not need MORE stripmalls and sprawl, which this highway will create.

    The "design process" doesn't really care about the public's opinon on the project and we are going to have to continue to try to join together to fight this.
  8. Report Abuse
    - October 05, 2012 6:19 am
    I agree with all these comments. There has never been a true debate on the highway project and Towanda Barnes is more than sufficient. Of course they study group has predictions to contrary assuming past growth in population continues. But they don't indicate where that is going to come from. Working at biggest employer in town I can tell you that company is not interested in a larger Bloomington Normal presence.
  9. catlbyer16
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    catlbyer16 - October 05, 2012 5:53 am
    No, lets not mention taking even more farmland forever out of production for a starving world. In your so important study one of the main things you should tell the public is how many total acres are we looking at. Not just for right away but for future building. Is it not time we look up instead of out? Look at it this way, like a bowl of cherries sometimes all your left with is the pits.
  10. TheOnly1
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    TheOnly1 - October 05, 2012 1:04 am
    "There's is no debate as to the need" ahhh yes there is! There was NEVER a debate as to the need! You offered a false choice! It went from: we are going to do a study on this to we are doing this and we will take input as to which 4 options you want. THIS IS A JOKE AND A WASTE OF TAX PAYERS MONEY!! You have a highway, Towanda Barnes! Simply connect farmland to the interstate and you're done. What they are not telling everyone is the cost. Estimated costs between $220-$330 MILLION!! 1/3 OF A BILLION DOLLARS!! This will be about 45 seconds east of Towanda Barnes...really? As if somehow state (broke) and federal (broke) dollars do not belong to the tax payers. Oh you're going to hear about all the temporary jobs this will create, at what cost? YES there needs to be a debate on this and it needs to stop!
  11. justnotrite
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    justnotrite - October 04, 2012 7:08 pm
    Matt, that east side highway that you want businesses to support could hurt a lot of established businesses on the West side. And for what? So interstate travelers can save 15 minutes. Use the money to improve aging roads, utilities, etc. Get smart!!!
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