New I-80 and Brisbin Road interchange dedicated
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org October 16, 2012 9:20AM
Jeff Gillan (left) and Bill Savoree from "D" Construction, Inc. prepare a tarp for the sign unveiling at the dedication ceremony of the Brisbin Road Interstate 80 interchange in Grundy County, Illinois, Monday, October 15, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media
Updated: November 17, 2012 6:16AM
Twelve years and $26 million after officials first started pushing the project, the long-anticipated Interstate 80 interchange at Brisbin Road will open to traffic for the first time around noon Friday.
About 70 people attended a wind-whipped dedication ceremony at the still-closed interchange on Monday to celebrate the years of work that made the project a reality.
With a blue sky as a backdrop, officials used a yellow D Construction crane to unveil a bright green interstate sign that will tell Brisbin Road motorists they can drive west to Moline or east to Joliet.
A lot of people didn’t think the interchange would happen or that it was needed, Channahon Mayor Joe Cook said.
“It was called a field of dreams,” he said. “But I think we hit a grand slam now.”
Interchange advocates say the project will reduce traffic on Route 47 through Morris as trucks head for large industrial businesses along Route 6. The new interchange is west of the Ridge Road exit in Minooka and east of the Route 47 exit in Morris.
During the dedication ceremony, many people were lauded for their efforts to get the project off the ground and see it through to the end, especially Grundy Economic Development Council officials Nancy Ammer, CEO, and Missy Durkin, business development director.
Ammer thanked a long list of elected officials past and present, as well as private-sector representatives who helped move the interchange along.
“There really was something that was special about this project,” she said. “It was never just one community’s, it was multiple communities and the county and all sides of the aisle supported this project and that’s what made it great.”
Ammer said the interchange will spur development at the site. Clarius Partners and 5 Star Development are already marketing land to the south of the interchange, she said.
“Look around, there’s 12,000 acres of readily developable ground that we’re looking forward to seeing some activity on here in the near future,” said Paul Loete, deputy director and Region 2 engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Three communities meet at the interchange: Channahon is in the southeast corner, Minooka is in the northeast and Morris is in the southwest corner.
“Without the collaboration of many municipal entities in the area as well as Grundy County this project couldn’t have come to fruition,” Loete said.
The Brisbin Road interchange will be a “new gateway” to the area’s industrial corridor, said state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris. Businesses look for new interchanges close to rail and water, she said.
“We have a lot to offer and that’s very exciting,” Rezin added.
Almost never happened
Twelve years ago, the project almost didn’t get off the ground. When Grundy County Board members debated spending $30,000 on a feasibility study, former state Sen. Pat Welch stepped forward to pledge the money, Ammer said.
With the seed money in place, the project moved forward and ground was broken in March 2010.
A new traffic signal on Route 6 at Brisbin Road will be turned on Wednesday, two days before it’s needed to make sure everything is working correctly, Loete said.
Ammer said the Brisbin Road interchange was proposed before the Prairie Parkway was discussed. There was a time when officials looked for ways to tie the two together, she said, but the issue is moot now that the Prairie Parkway has been scrapped. The Prairie Parkway would have stretched from I-80 near Minooka to Interstate 88 near Elburn.
But even without the Prairie Parkway, Grundy County officials say they’re happy their new interchange is about to open and local residents can stop asking questions about the project’s status.
“Today we are happy to report: We’re here — it is done — and will be open Friday for business,” Grundy County Board Vice Chairman John Almer said.