Officials to merge Alpine/State ideas

Officials to merge Alpine/State ideas

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

Rockford Alderman Frank Beach (R-10) believes talks about Rockford’s busiest intersection should accelerate into more serious discussion.

At a Rockford City Council meeting in mid-December, Beach expressed his desires for improving the Alpine/State junction. Currently, it’s unknown when a meeting will occur to discuss the issue.

In the summer of 1999, local officials, including State Rep. Doug Scott (D-67) and Mayor Charles Box, held a meeting to exchange ideas.

“It’s really backed up and unsafe in the way it is right now, in our opinion,” Beach commented, adding that at any rush hour, traffic is “stacked up two or three blocks … stacked up to the old Magna store. That’s not cool.”

While Beach said he doesn’t expect the construction to be completed in three years, he thinks talks should gain momentum.

“It’s an enormous project,” Beach said. “I just wanted to have some of these options being explored. I’ve been talking about it for years. It’s not something that’s come to my mind yesterday. The conversations are coming more frequently, which pleases me. I think the time has come.”

One of the city’s most notorious meeting places, the intersection consists of 65,000 passing automobiles daily.

The junction is an at-grade intersection, meaning it lacks separate ramp. The largest such intersection in Rockford is Mulford/East State. The city’s construction program manager Jim Ryan stated the city is looking at creative solutions to improve the intersection without causing adverse impacts.

He noted a cemetery and auto dealership are located at the intersection. “We haven’t talked with adjacent businesses,” he said.

Ryan noted the city has considered grade separation, or a bridge that would go under East State.

The city and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) would fund the project. East State is considered a state highway. “IDOT owns 50 percent. They have jurisdiction over East State Street,” Ryan noted. “We have jurisdiction over Alpine.”

Ryan said improvements would cost between $10 and $15 million. “It’s a very expensive project. It’s not a funded project at this point,” he said. “It’s in the very preliminary stages.”

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