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Funding coming for local roads damaged by tornado

COAL CITY – Several roads in Diamond and Coal City all but crumbled when tornado cleanup commenced last fall, bringing a continual parade of dump trucks and other heavy equipment through the area.

But help is on the way as Diamond, Coal City and Braceville Township will receive nearly $1 million from the Illinois Department of Transportation to repair local roads damaged during tornado cleanup.

On Nov. 17, an EF2 tornado – with winds faster than 120 mph – ripped through the area, damaging more than 200 homes and businesses.

Coal City and Diamond will each receive more than $400,000 from IDOT, and Braceville will receive about $200,000.

“We are very excited about this. It’s a positive thing for those impacted by the tornado to see,” Diamond Mayor Terry Kernc said. “It lets them know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The funding was announced late last week and should be dispersed to the communities soon, Coal City Administrator Matt Fritz said. Coal City approved the IDOT agreement at its village board meeting Tuesday.

“IDOT is pushing as quick as they can to get the dollars to us,” Fritz said. “But it’s going to take a little bit of time to get all of the engineering ready and the documents together.”

The funds come at an opportune time for the villages as this year’s historically cold winter compounded the damage to local roadways.

Kernc called the funds “a silver lining” to November’s tornado and said she hopes the roads come out looking better than they did before the storm.

Valerio Road in Coal City is one such road that will see a makeover. The road is gravel and was used as an alternate route during the storm response period. Fritz said the village spent a significant amount of money in keeping the road maintained for the increased traffic.

With the new IDOT funds, Valerio will be upgraded to a tar and chip road.

“That’s going to be a major improvement,” Fritz said.

Coal City also will be repairing sections of Carbon Hill and Will roads and Richards Street.

In Diamond, the money will be used to repair Will, Berta and Spring roads as well as several intersections within the Diamond Estates, Sterling Estates and Farmstone subdivisions.

All three communities are teaming together to repair the intersection of Spring and Berta roads, which was one of the more heavily damaged areas.

The communities will go out for bid together in an effort to save money on the project cost, Kernc said.

They aim to have all repairs completed before the end of this construction season, Fritz said.

“The governor is fast-tracking this,” Kernc said. “IDOT is working very closely with us. The governor is being made aware of everything as it happens, because he wants everything to be restored by the end of this construction season.”

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