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East Peoria Times-Courier - East Peoria, IL
  • Bass Pro Shops to bring new two-lane road

  • When the 58th Bass Pro Shops opens in East Peoria in fall 2011, its visitors will travel down Bass Pro Boulevard in order to get to the outdoor superstore. The city of East Peoria will own the road along with the 35-acre site once known as the CILCO Ash Pond, a 1,000-vehicle parking lot and the 14...
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  • When the 58th Bass Pro Shops opens in East Peoria in fall 2011, its visitors will travel down Bass Pro Boulevard in order to get to the outdoor superstore.
    The city of East Peoria will own the road along with the 35-acre site once known as the CILCO Ash Pond, a 1,000-vehicle parking lot and the 145,000-square-foot building, and lease it all to Bass Pro. This has raised concern among some area taxpayers, who argue that this could be a risky situation.
    Steve Ferguson, director of public works for the city, said the risk is not there.
    “We’ll receive sales tax from everything that’s sold at Bass Pro and from the surrounding businesses,” Ferguson said.
    Construction on the two-lane road, which will be about a third of a mile long, will begin late this year, or in early 2011. The road will start between TGIFriday’s and Wal-Mart. It will run toward the Illinois River and turn, running through Riverfront Park. It will curve behind Wal-Mart and run alongside the Illinois River.
    The road will continue under Interstate 74, leading patrons into Bass Pro’s parking lot.
    Although land from Riverfront Park will be sacrificed for the road, Ferguson said the park will be improved by the project.
    “Anything we’re taking away, we’re putting back double,” he said.
    Ferguson added that officials at Bass Pro Shops are very “conservation-minded” and plan to add to the park, both environmentally and educationally.
    Riverfront Park will be extended north, adding about eight acres to its current eight acres. Riverfront Trail located within Riverfront Park will also be extended, leading its users to Bass Pro Shops.
    “The park is under utilized,” Ferguson said. “The road will provide much better access to the park, add a picturesque entrance and help with traffic flow into and out of Bass Pro.”
    Ferguson said congestion on Camp Street and River Road may be a short-term issue. A “T” intersection at Riverside Drive will help improve traffic flow.
    Bass Pro officials, who Ferguson said will most likely maintain the trail, plan to add educational kiosks along the trail to mark area plants and wildlife.
    “They really hit us with a very beautiful plan,” Ferguson said. “We have a beautiful riverscape that we can take advantage of.”
     

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