John and Alyson Woodland did not hesitate to share their opinions about the Eastern Bypass route.



“I don’t like it,” Alyson Woodland said, as she filled out a comment card. “Three of the corridors will go right through our house.”


John and Alyson Woodland did not hesitate to share their opinions about the Eastern Bypass route.

“I don’t like it,” Alyson Woodland said, as she filled out a comment card. “Three of the corridors will go right through our house.”

The East Peoria husband and wife were among hundreds who attended the Illinois Department of Transportation’s second four-hour open house about the Eastern Bypass at Countryside Banquet Facility in Washington.

People from all parts of Central Illinois came to gather information and voice their opinions Thursday about a proposed roadway that would connect Interstate 474 and Illinois Route 6.
Everyone watched a 10-minute video upon arrival, before visiting tables and displays outlining the proposed plans.

A community advisory group made up of 47 local citizens representing different interests was split into smaller groups over the past year, and each of the teams drew what they believe to be the best paths.

Each of the six groups’ proposed corridors were assigned a color and displayed on a large map at Thursday’s meeting. There were 20 possible routes for the public to examine and make comments about. All include building a bridge over the Illinois River near Spring Bay, about seven miles east of the Interstate 74 bridge.

“We’re making comments on all the routes to make sure our voices are heard,” said Chrisanne Burr of Germantown Hills. “Almost all of the maps have a road going right behind us or through us.”

Burr said she and her husband, Marvin, moved to Germantown Hills in 1971 to get away from the city and enjoy the peacefulness of country living.

“I just want to weep because we have put so much time and money into our property,” she said.

The Burrs’ comments — and all other written and verbal suggestions — will be taken into consideration before the community advisory group refines the list of possible corridors and eliminates those that are least desirable. Two more public meetings will take place before a preferred corridor is selected within the next year.

However, selection of a final corridor does not mean the roadway will definitely be built. A no-build option is still on the table, said Joe Crowe, deputy director of highways for IDOT. Decisions will ultimately be made by the public.

“Every comment is considered,” he said at Thursday’s meeting. “That’s what we are here for. Whether it’s written or verbal, we want to hear from you.”

Crowe said the meeting’s turnout was beyond his expectations. Though the open house began at 3 p.m., some interested citizens showed up as early as lunch time. Crowe said organizers opened the doors early because of the line outside the banquet center.

“It shows the level of interest the public has with this project,” Crowe said.

IDOT officials estimate the proposed roadway and bridge will cost between $500 and $700 million. It would be paid for with state, federal and IDOT funds.

It could take 10 years before any dirt is turned for a ground breaking, and it could take another 17 after that to complete the entire project.

Brad Pettet of Rome, owner of Pettet Jewelry in Peoria’s Metro Centre, said he is opposed to the roadway altogether.

“My only opinion about the project is that it’s a waste of time,” he said. “We need a highway connecting Chicago to Kansas City through Peoria first, not the other way around.”

Comments should be sent to the Illinois Department of Transportation, 401 Main St., Peoria, IL 61602 by Monday. Verbal comments can be made by calling 671-3333.

Visit www.washingtontimesreporter.com for maps of the proposed corridors, or visit www.easternbypass.com for more information.