The Prairie Parkway project fell into a dormant state when the Federal Highway Administration rescinded its funding for the proposed link between I-88 and I-80. But not all of the cash associated with the project vanished. Kane County, Yorkville and Sugar Grove are now uniting to fight for $51 million of the leftover money.
Federal officials allocated the $51 million to the parkway in 2005. But a lawsuit stalled the project as revelations surfaced that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and a group of land speculators made about $3 million buying and selling property related to the proposed parkway. The resulting withdrawal of federal funds left the already-allocated $51 million in limbo.
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IDOT officials have decided to divert that money for a widening of Route 47 south of Yorkville in Grundy County. The widening is part of what would have been achieved if the full Prairie Parkway was constructed.
But officials in both Kane County and Yorkville would like to see that cash put to work a little farther north.
Members of the county board transportation committee voted Tuesday to support a resolution being pushed by Yorkville. It calls on IDOT to spend the $51 million to build an interchange at I-88 and Route 47 while widening Route 47 to four lanes between Kennedy Road and Cross Street, which stretches from Yorkville to Sugar Grove. That places the half the project in Kane County and half in Kendall County.
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said moving the money north solves more traffic problems than it would if spent on Route 47 between I-80 and Caton Farm Road.
"The traffic volumes on our stretch of road in Kane County are much higher than what they are talking about in Grundy County," Lauzen said.
Transportation committee members said the Route 47 interchange with I-88 is long overdue. However, Mike Donahue and Maggie Auger both said they want the county to also focus on transportation projects even farther north, such as the Longmeadow Parkway. None of the $51 million left over from the Prairie Parkway would qualify to help with that project, county transportation staff members said.
The full county board must still vote on the resolution at its next meeting April 9.
County officials estimate the Route 47 widening and interchange would create about 120 jobs immediately and as many as 5,600 jobs down the line as access to the area is improved. Construction is still a few years away.