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Officials push for Prairie Parkway money to fund Route 47 project

GENEVA – Kane County has signed on to urge state road officials to steer a chunk of federal money formerly dedicated to a failed highway project to projects that would improve traffic flow at the county’s south end.

Wednesday, the County Board Transportation Committee endorsed a resolution that would request the Illinois Department of Transportation redirect millions of dollars from the defunct Prairie Parkway project to upgrade the Interstate 88 interchange at Route 47 in Sugar Grove and widen Route 47 from Sugar Grove to Yorkville.

The proposal also drew a strong endorsement from County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen.

“I love it,” Lauzen said.

For years, officials in Sugar Grove have sought to upgrade the I-88 and Route 47 junction from a partial to a full interchange.

Kane County ranks the interchange project among its top transportation priorities. The Illinois Tollway has said it could be willing to chip in as much as half of the estimated $20 million cost. But that funding depends on local governments coming up with the remaining money from various sources, such as the former parkway earmark.

At the same time, the county and Sugar Grove, with the city of Yorkville, are asking IDOT to divert parkway money to widen Route 47 from Sugar Grove to Yorkville.

Tom Rickert, Kane County’s deputy director of transportation, said that stretch of highway routinely suffers backups because it carries 17,000 to 24,000 vehicles each day.

About $100 million that had been earmarked for the Prairie Parkway became available for road projects last year when the project was canceled by the Federal Highway Administration.

State and federal officials said the money could be spent on other road projects near the parkway corridor, and on Route 47 in particular. The money cannot be spent outside the parkway corridor.

The local road projects also must contend with other projects in counties to the south.

But Lauzen said he believes Kane’s traffic volumes relative to those in other counties should help bring money to the Sugar Grove projects.

Rickert said IDOT likely is to indicate within the next 30 to 60 days how it could choose to divide the Prairie Parkway money.

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