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Hastert committed to funding Stearns Road Bridge


By Patrick Waldron
STAFF WRITER
Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Showing considerable faith in House Speaker Dennis Hasterts ability to provide the required cash, Kane County leaders Monday unveiled the basics of a six-part plan to build a Stearns Road bridge by the end of the decade.

The construction blueprint outlines the phases of what likely would become the Kane County Division of Transportations largest-ever infrastructure project, eventually creating a four-lane corridor linking McDonald Road at its intersection with Randall Road to Stearns Road at the Kane-DuPage county border.

This project is a very, very large project, said Mark Bagherpour, a county consultant working on the Stearns corridor plan. The cost is enormous. It is bigger than anything we have dealt with.

After 14 years of planning and talking, a $120 million Stearns Road bridge has never been closer to reality than now. County leaders are waiting on $88 million worth of federal transportation money expected to be part of a massive spending package predicted to come out of Congress this week.

More than a year ago, Hastert, a Plano Republican, included $88 million for the Stearns Road project in an early version of the six-year, $275 billion transportation funding program.

Subsequent versions of that long-delayed legislation dropped the Stearns allocation down to $2 million, but this month, Hastert has confidently promised to get back the original $88 million.

The speaker is committed to restoring full funding for the Stearns bridge, said Hastert spokesman Brad Hahn. Its extremely important that the dollars be there so that Kane County can move forward.

And that's exactly what the county's engineers are doing.

If the money comes through, the plan is to get Stearns incorporated into the Illinois Department of Transportations building program next year.

It will start with some environmental work on the site of the old Midwest Groundcovers just west of Route 25, the future eastern approach of the main bridge.

In the second phase, the first three smaller bridges along the corridor would be completed one taking the Union Pacific Railroad over Route 25, the second taking Route 31 over an extended Stearns Road and the third a Dunham Road bridge over the Chicago Central & Pacific railroad.

The entire project includes 14 bridges and overpasses, including the main span over the river.

Next, the project adds a railroad bridge over McLean Boulevard, builds a new intersection for an extended Stearns Road at McLean Boulevard, and constructs an expanded intersection at McLean Boulevard and Route 31.

The fourth phase rebuilds a Route 25, Stearns Road and Dunham Road intersection while adding a total of four smaller bridges over Brewster Creek and the Illinois Prairie Path.

Part five sees the construction of an extended Stearns Road from McLean Boulevard to Route 25. This includes the actual span over the river.

Once all that is completed, the final phase builds a link between the new McLean/Stearns intersection and the McDonald/Randall intersection, finishing the 4.5-mile corridor.

Several of the phases can be built at once, Bagherpour said, but the environmental work has to come first and the western portion near Randall Road will be last. Building of the Fox River span would take two construction seasons, and the entire project should be ready for traffic by 2009, assuming the funding falls into place this summer.

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