It has been more than 12 years since officials first started working toward creating the Brisbin Road interchange off Interstate 80, but it will finally be open for traffic Friday.
The Grundy Economic Development Council held an unveiling ceremony Monday morning with mayors, legislators, Grundy County Board members, Illinois Department of Transportation officials and numerous others who were involved in the project. All involved met on the bridge deck above Interstate 80 on Brisbin Road.
"It was 12 years, two months and six days ago that I stood in front of the county board to raise funds for a feasibility study," said Nancy Norton Ammer, CEO for the GEDC.
On that day, state Senator Pat Welch pledged the funds for the study, she said, and from there the long journey began with the help of numerous parties — both private and public — and with the hard work of current and past elected officials.
In 2009, the project was added to the state's capital bill. The project was awarded to "D" Construction of Coal City and the ground breaking was in March 2011. The total project cost, including studies, land acquisition and the five-lane intersection at Brisbin and U.S. 6 was about $26 million.
The new interchange was a dream of the county and the communities of Morris, Minooka and Channahon to expand their industrial growth and ease traffic in their towns. All four of the government bodies worked together to accomplish the interchange. Morris has two quadrants of the Brisbin Road and U.S. 6 intersection, the northwest and southwest corners. Minooka has the northeast quadrant and Channahon the southeast.
The interstate exit is located between the Minooka and Morris exits off of I-80 and gives traffic direct access to U.S. 6. The plan is for it to be an industrial corridor for Grundy County. It will serve current industrial companies including A&R Transport, Akzo Nobel, Aux Sable Liquid Products and LyondellBasell.
With its prime location for transportation, and being inside the county's first Economic Development Project Area, which offers incentives to new developers, the region will attract even more industrial development, increasing jobs and the tax base, said Ammer. Current land owners Five Star Land Company and Clarius Partners already have plans for industrial parks.
The interchange is surrounded by more than 12,000 acres.
A crane raised a large piece of material to hide the new interchange sign off of Brisbin Road and was pulled down by a line of officials involved in the interchange to symbolize the unveiling.
"We at IDOT are excited to be involved in these success stories and look forward to the next one," said Paul Loete, deputy director of highways and region two engineer for IDOT, to the crowd.
Rick Powell, former engineer with IDOT who worked on the project, was pleased to see one of IDOT's projects completed.
"In my career with IDOT, I participated in a lot of projects that did not always get built. When you see one actually come together, especially in this day and age where not all of them get built, it is a special thing," said Powell after the ceremony.
State Senator Sue Rezin and state Rep. Pam Roth also spoke at the event. Rezin shared a letter from Congressman Adam Kinzinger sharing his congratulations, along with making her own comments. She called the new interchange a "gateway to our industrial corridor" that is sure to grow with all that the area communities have to offer.
Channahon Village President Joe Cook and Minooka Mayor Pat Brennan also spoke, as did county board member Frank Halpin and vice chairman John Almer.
"This project has reminded me of a recent television commercial and children everywhere asking as a family trip goes along, 'Are we there yet?' That's the question that I've gotten as the interchange project has proceeded, 'When will it be done?'" Almer said.
"Today we are happy to report, we're here. It's done," he said.
For more information on available property around the interchange contact the GEDC office at (815) 942-0163 or visit gedc.com.