Rockton residents concerned about roadway improvement project

The Rockton Township Historical Society is at 529 Green St. (Photo by Jon McGinty)
The Rockton Township Historical Society is at 529 Green St. (Photo by Jon McGinty)

By Jon McGinty
Freelance Writer

ROCKTON, Illinois — An informational meeting was held at the Rockton Township office last Thursday, Oct. 28, to address residents’ concerns about an upcoming roadway improvement project, slated to begin in 2016. Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) engineers Masood Ahmad and Steven Robery explained the plans for the $10 million project before answering questions from the 30-plus people in attendance.

According to Ahmad, the purpose of the project is to improve the Illinois 75 corridor through Rockton from the Rock River to its intersection with Illinois 2 north of town. The plan calls for replacing the existing pavement from the Rock River bridge to the railroad tracks north of Bridge Street, including new storm sewers and sidewalks. The rest of the 1.36 miles will overlay and widen the existing pavement and provide a multi-use path on the south side of the roadway.

Once completed, the highway will have one through-lane in each direction, with a turn lane in the middle. There will also be two signalized intersections, at Main and Union streets. Turn radii at each intersection will be widened to meet current federal standards.

Marilyn Mohring, president of the Rockton Township Historical Society, was concerned about what impact the construction would have on access to their museum on Warren Street, as well as the historic character of the Rockton community.

The nickname of Rockton is ‘the beautiful village,’ and we’d like to keep it that way,” Mohring said. “All these changes to the roadway could make us look just like every other small town. Also, we will probably be shut down for an entire season during construction. Depending on the length of the shut-down, we could lose as much as $4,000 in income.”

Ahmad reminded the audience that two prior public meetings were held — in 2005 and 2012 — to solicit input from the general public. That completed Phase I and the project report was approved in 2013. The purpose of Thursday’s meeting was to clarify details for residents as to how the design will specifically impact their particular property, not to generate major changes in the plan.

If funding is approved by the governor in March of next year, said Ahmad, bids will be solicited in late 2015 or early 2016. Construction of the downtown section could begin in 2016, with completion of the portion north of the railroad tracks slated for 2017.

From the Nov. 5-11, 2014, issue

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