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Illinois planning change to the bridge approach in Hamilton

IDOT's Jay Wavering explained the preferred alternative to those who attended the public meeting in Hamilton.
Rich Egger
IDOT's Jay Wavering explained the preferred alternative to those who attended the public meeting in Hamilton.

The Illinois Department of Transportation hopes to change the approach to the Mississippi River bridge at Hamilton by the end of the decade.

Flooding has been an issue with the approach at least three times in the past three decades -- in 1993, 2008, and 2019.

“We’ve not had flooding issues with the bridge – it’s been the Illinois approach. So, we just want to make sure we get the road up so we can keep traffic open between the states. We have over 10,000 vehicles a day that use this route, so it’s definitely a priority,” said IDOT Engineer Jeff Myers.

“It’s definitely an impact to people who live in one state and work in the other.”

The department presented three alternatives during a public meeting in Hamilton.

Its preferred option would reroute Highway 136 south of its current path at an estimated cost of $17,400,000. This would move that stretch of highway further from the river and it would allow them to keep the current Route 136 open while building the new route.

This option would require the state to acquire 21.2 acres, including a gas station, asphalt plant, and some storage units.

Two other options are also under consideration. Both would be more expensive.

One would raise the current Route 136 by a few feet and cost an estimated $29,000,000.

“That one has some challenges on how to keep the road open (during construction) and how to get the railroad raised at the same time as the road,” Myers said.

The other would include building a bridge over the railroad tracks and cost considerably more – an estimated $45,800,000.

Myers said IDOT worked on the issue with a community advisory group about a decade ago. That group recommended the southern realignment, but at the time there was no funding for the project. That has now changed.

“Construction is funded in our six-year program. I would say it would be in the middle or back end of the program, so somewhere probably in year four or five of the program is the best guess right now,” Myers said.

He estimated it will take two years to complete the project.

IDOT must still choose an option, and then address railroad and environmental impacts, plus acquire land from affected property owners.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.