Construction underway for new I-57/74 interchange

Champaign-Urbana roadways are expected to become more efficient as the Illinois Department of Transportation continues implementing Governor JB Pritzker’s “Rebuild Illinois” project.

The Pritzker administration officially launched the rebuilding of the I-57/74 interchange in August — predicting it will “improve safety and mobility, and create thousands of construction and permanent jobs while positioning the region for long-term economic opportunity” in a press release.

Many of those jobs are set to draw from the Highway Construction Careers Training Program at Parkland College — which partners with IDOT to help “increase the number of minorities, women, and disadvantaged individuals working on IDOT highway construction projects,” according to its website.

Program manager Elise Doody-Jones says the I-57/74 interchange project is “absolutely” the largest they’ve seen in the program since its inception 12 years ago, and that all of our roads in Illinois are in “dire need of repair or reconstruction.”

“We know that there’s going to be a real solid need for a workforce for the next three to five years,” Doody-Jones said. “When I called around to folks who have graduated in the past four years, they were very excited when they showed up to meet Governor Pritzker.”

A 2018 poll found that under half (41%) of Illinois residents outside of the Chicago area rate highway conditions as “good” or “excellent.” One motivation for the I-57/74 rebuild is matching the influx of traffic over the years, which has only grown since the interchange’s original construction in 1965.

According to the governor’s office, the project will cost $216.8 million, but will presumably be a long-term investment to bring more growth to central Illinois. By completion in 2025, the interchange will see new ramp pavements and 11 new bridge structures. Until then, the initial construction will pose “little impact on traffic.”

Drivers can say goodbye to the 56-year-old cloverleaf design of the interchange — as it will be completely replaced by two flyover ramps.