The governors of Indiana and Illinois have given their endorsement to a planned 47-mile expressway aimed at relieving traffic congestion in the Chicago area and creating jobs in both states.
The support comes before a vote on the expressway expected Friday morning by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's transportation committee.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence both threw their support behind the proposed Illiana Expressway during a regional summit Friday at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The expressway would link would link Interstate 65 near Lowell, Ind., in the state's northwestern corner with Interstate 55, near Wilmington, Ill., south of Chicago.
"Whether it's the Illiana or any mode of transportation, you have to go where the demand is," Quinn told about 200 people who attended the meeting.
At a later panel discussion, Pence also gave the project his endorsement, saying "you have to think regionally, because roads don't stop at state borders."
"We look forward to the state of Illinois doing its part, but the state of Indiana wants to make it clear we want this project to go forward," Pence said.
The governors' thumbs-up comes in the face of mounting opposition to the proposed highway in Chicago, where a vote will take place in two weeks.
The proposed road has also been controversial in northwestern Indiana among residents living in its proposed path, the Times of Munster reported (http://bit.ly/15BuNce ).
Former CenterPoint Properties CEO Michael Mullen said during a panel discussion that the expressway would help get trucks off local roads from intermodal facilities like the one his company developed a decade ago in Joliet, Ill.
"There are naysayers that don't quite get it," Mullen said of the proposed highway. "But I welcome anyone to drive down there and see the amount of truck traffic moving out of there."
Friday's three-state summit that also included Wisconsin officials was convened as a follow up on a study done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which emphasized the need for the Milwaukee-Chicago-Gary area to develop their economies as one.