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Prairie Parkway money almost gone



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Updated: March 21, 2013 6:25AM

At one time, more than $200 million was set aside to build the Prairie Parkway, a highway connecting Interstates 80 and 88 through Kane, Kendall and Grundy counties.

Now, with nothing left of that potential project except a paper corridor, officials in those counties are scrambling to get what’s left of the money – about $52 million.

A number of area officials met last week to discuss the future of the money once earmarked by former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who represented the Fox Valley in Congress for more than 20 years.

Officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation listened to suggestions from representatives from interested parties along Route 47, where some of the money already has been spent — and the rest of the money also will be used.

Those parties included Kane and Kendall counties, and Sugar Grove and Yorkville.

State Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, the Illinois House Republican leader, put the meeting together, and those attending praised it as productive.

Officials from IDOT, including state Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider, said they would take all viewpoints into account.

But there are still more projects along Route 47 than could be covered by the $52 million left in the former Prairie Parkway fund.

“The meeting was designed to get all parties together,” said Derek Persico, senior legal counsel for Cross’ office. “IDOT just listened.”

What IDOT heard was that both Kane and Kendall counties have ideas for the money for specific projects.

Most of the Kendall County Board wants the money for at least the engineering needed for widening Route 47 between Kennedy Road in Yorkville and Cross Street in Sugar Grove. Yorkville officials are for that, too.

While Sugar Grove is in favor of that project, the village opted to side with Kane County in pushing for some of the money to spent finishing the current half-interchange at Route 47 and I-88.

John Shaw, Kendall County Board chairman, told the County Board Tuesday that he pursued the attitude that about 70 percent of the Prairie Parkway was to be built in Kendall, so most of the money should be spent in Kendall.

He also pointed out that the traffic count along Route 47 between Kennedy Road and Cross Street is about twice what it is on another section of Route 47 being worked on, between Caton Farm Road in Kendall County south to I-80 in Grundy County.

“I said again, I could not speak of sharing what I consider our money, with Kane County,” Shaw said.

Kendall board members are planning to put a resolution together saying they favor the Kennedy-to-Cross section. Yorkville already has passed such a resolution. The County Board is likely to vote on such a resolution next month.

Chris Lauzen, Kane County Board chairman, argued that if IDOT spent money at the interchange at Route 47 and I-88, it would get “more bang for its buck.”

Any work there also would involve the Illinois Toll Highway Authority, which would have to fund 50 percent of the construction. The state would fund 25 percent, and local entities – Kane County, Sugar Grove or both – would fund the other 25 percent.

Lauzen said because the project is estimated at $20 million, that means the state would only have to fund $5 million of it.

“They can leverage their $5 million, 3 to 1,” Lauzen said.

It appears that former Prairie Parkway money already was spent to do the engineering for the section of Route 47 between Caton Farm Road and I-80, and that project is ready to bid.

Because it’s the furthest along of all the Route 47 projects, it might get some of that remaining $52 million toward construction costs.

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