Wednesday, January 18, 2012

IDOT to Open Bids Friday for Marion Interchange

Bids for the biggest improvement in Marion's interstate access in 50 years will be opened Friday at 10 a.m. in the Springfield headquarters of the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Morgan Ave Interchange and new I-57/Rt. 13 Single-Point Interchange
Contract No. 78182 includes a $45 million new single-point interchange for Interstate 57 at Illinois Rt. 13 as well as expands the state highway to six lanes. In addition the project includes two new ramps for Morgan Avenue.

The price tag of course represents IDOT's estimates from last year. The agency will know better the actual costs once they processed the bids.

The map at left shows the outlines of the new ramps which will include two bridges for the Morgan Avenue ramps that will "fly-over" the I-57 ramps. (Note: The map is aligned with North at the left side, and not at the top.)

Here's a few random stats:
  • 4 ramps replaced, 2 new ramps added,
  • 2 new temporary sets of stoplights on Rt 13,
  • 3 new sets of permanent stoplights (one on Rt. 13 and two on Morgan Ave.),
  • 127 aluminum light poles,
  • Nearly 20.4 miles of preformed plastic pavement marking-line (107,620 ft),
  • 5 buildings to remove, including the tennis court at the old Holiday Inn,
  • 10.2 miles of pipe under drains (53,880 ft.),
  • 1.05 miles of storm sewers (5,588 ft.) ,
  • More than 1.5 miles of  electric cable in conduit,
  • Almost 584 tons of  epoxy-coated reinforcement bars, and,
  • 147 acres of seeding for grassy areas.

The single-point interchange will mean the end of Exit 54's clover-leaf design and the dangerous merging lanes both on the interstate and on Route 13 underneath the overpass.

Single-Point Interchange on Route 13 under the I-57 overpass
During the construction phase crews will open new temporary ramps which will transform the clover-leaf into a diamond design. As part of that project two new sets of stoplights will be added at the new intersections.

With the temporary ramps in place crews can take out the existing ramps and start to work on the new ramps which will all converge at a single point underneath the rebuilt overpass. There drivers will face a new set of stoplights.

When that's finished the temporary ramps and their stoplights on Route 13 will be removed.

During construction IDOT plans to shift all interstate traffic to one side (making one lane in one direction and two lanes in the opposite) while they take out the existing overpass and replace it with a new one. Then when one side is finished they'll do the other.

From what I can tell of the plans, while the project includes two new ramps for Morgan Avenue it doesn't include the new overpass, cross-over lanes and the widening of Morgan. If I understand correctly that's an $8 million project whose tab the city if picking up. Revenue from the city's new STAR Bonds District is expected to cover those costs. Should that fail to happen the city can just attach the ramps to the existing road and overpass.

Proposed Hill View Way off of Morgan Avenue
Already, IDOT has acquired right-of-way and access rights to the Village Green property immediately to the southwest of Morgan Avenue interchange. Because that property won't be able to access Morgan Avenue from its current entrance once the Morgan Avenue improvements are made, IDOT plans a new road — Hill View Way — to provide access.

That not only helps the mobile home dealership (they've already in the process of moving the business to Johnston City) sell to future developers, but also Wolohan's land which gets a new outlot ready for development and opens up the back side of the old Holiday Inn property and the vacant land on the north end of the combined Foley-Sweitzer/Cash-Baker Chevrolet dealerships that's merged into the new Marion Chevrolet-Cadillac.

The full plans for the construction can be found on the IDOT website.

The only downside of the project will be the construction zone driving. It looks to be a two-year project with a completion date of July 1, 2014.

One more item — in accordance with Gov. Pat Quinn's Executive Order #2010-03, the construction will require a Project Labor Agreement.

The governor's office defines Project Labor Agreements as "a form of pre-hire collective bargaining agreement covering all terms and conditions of employment on a specific project, can ensure the highest standards of quality and efficiency at the lowest responsible cost on appropriate public works projects..."

... [P]roject labor agreements provide for peaceful, orderly and mutually binding procedures for resolving labor issues without labor disruption, preventing significant lost-time on construction projects; and ... allow public agencies to predict more accurately the actual cost of the public works project; and ... can be of particular benefit to complex construction projects.
The free market Illinois Policy Institute disagrees:
Project Labor Agreements drive up the cost of construction projects by limiting bidders and forcing contractors to use union workers, pay into union benefit plans, and follow outmoded and inefficient union work rules
Still, it's $45 million being pumped into the local economy over the next two years, safer roads (eventually, once the construction's finished), and new areas for economic development. It's a big deal for Marion and all of Southern Illinois.

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