Reasons behind Brisbin interchange
April 27, 2012 8:14PM
Work is performed in the median during construction of the interchange at I-80 and Brisbin Rd. Thursday, April 26, 2012, in Morris. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 30, 2012 8:14AM
Each morning, as I drive east to work, I pass construction on the new Brisbin Road interchange halfway between Morris and Minooka on Interstate 80.
I’ve watched the $24 million project progress to the point where now you can see the exit ramps in place. All workers need to do now is build a bridge over I-80. The project is supposed to be finished by fall.
But I can’t help wonder as I stare at all the cornfields surrounding the soon-to-be interchange, why it’s being built.
In most cases, roads and interchanges are built after a road is so choked with traffic, local officials and the citizenry rise up and demand it. But Brisbin Road reminds me more of the Houbolt Road interchange in Joliet, which I cheered years ago when it opened because it shortened my commute to work. That led to development along Houbolt Road, including the Rock Run Business Park, hotels, eateries and even the Empress Casino, which now is the Hollywood Casino.
That is what Grundy County officials are counting on, too, Channahon Village President Joe Cook said. But there is another, more immediate, reason the interchange is being built, he said.
Trucks heading to the many industries and the landfill along Ashley Road and Route 6 exit I-80 at Route 47 in Morris or Ridge Road in Minooka, Cook said.
“There is so much industry there now, this interchange is going to be a huge relief on local roads,” he said. “Once the interchange is completed, you’ll see the traffic pattern change.”
All three nearby municipalities will benefit from the project because their boundaries meet at the interchange. Minooka has the northeast side of the interchange, Channahon the southeast and Morris the west side.
When the interchange opens, it will be the culmination of years of planning by many Grundy County officials, said Nancy Ammer, CEO of the Grundy Economic Development Council.
“We’re pretty darn excited about it,” she said. “I worked on it a long time, over 10 years.”
Years ago, when industries located in the Route 6 corridor, there wasn’t much population or development in the nearby communities, Ammer said. Now those towns are growing and they have a lot of trucks barreling through their towns, she said.
Trucks coming from the east that get off at Route 47 in Morris and curve around on Route 6 by the Wal-Mart to get to Ashley Road industries will now be able to get off at Brisbin Road, she said.
“The burden from some of these access points is going to be lifted,” Ammer said.
Assuming I continue to commute in from the west to Joliet for years to come, I’ll get a daily view of any development that comes Bribin Road’s way.
And I’ll try to stay out of the way of trucks that may be exiting and entering I-80 there, too.