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Kendall wants to roll Prairie Parkway funds into improvements on Route 47

The Prairie Parkway originally was proposed cut inheart Kendall County. But federal government has declared project dead Kendall County now

The Prairie Parkway originally was proposed to cut into the heart of Kendall County. But the federal government has declared the project dead, and Kendall County now wants to get a share of money that was dedicated for the roadway. | File photo

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Updated: February 17, 2013 6:29AM

YORKVILLE — Kendall County wants to make sure it gets a share of the funding once allocated for the proposed Prairie Parkway.

The County Board voted Tuesday to send a letter requesting an immediate meeting with the state to discuss how Prairie Parkway funding will be shifted to Route 47.

The board is concerned that plans to spend the money have not taken Kendall County’s needs into account.

“I think we should move in a hurry,” said board Chairman John Shaw. “This was sort of dropped in our lap at the last minute.”

Shaw had a letter drafted and ready to go to Paul Loete, deputy director of highways for IDOT’s 3rd District in Ottawa.

The letter asks Loete to have a “frank discussion” with the board about “the best way to serve the constituents of this region.”

The most immediate concern is that IDOT is moving quickly to spend the money on two contracts for improvements along Route 47 near Morris, in Grundy County, and then from the county line with Grundy to Caton Farm Road in Kendall.

Fran Klaas, Kendall’s county engineer, said the state might be ready to let bids for the section from the county line with Grundy to Interstate 80 by next year.

And Sugar Grove is lobbying for some of the money to create a full interchange at Route 47 and Interstate 88.

Kendall officials think the money might be better spent on Route 47 between Kennedy Road in Yorkville to Cross Street in Sugar Grove.

The improvements at I-80 in Morris were actually part of the original Prairie Parkway project, a proposed 37-mile highway between I-80 and I-88, through western Kane, Kendall and Grundy counties.

Last year, a Federal Highway Administration decision all but killed the Prairie Parkway project, at least for the foreseeable future.

In the 2005 federal transportation bill, then U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert of Yorkville, who represented the Fox Valley in Congress for two decades, got $207 million earmarked for the parkway. Since then, the state has spent about $70 million in both state and federal funds protecting the Prairie Parkway corridor and purchasing about 250 acres in the region.

When the Federal Highway Administration rescinded its Prairie Parkway funding decision, it did say money for Route 47 still could be spent.

“Up until this past fall, most people believed we could only spend that on the section between Caton Farm Road and I-80,” Klaas said. “But that recision (by the FHA) opened up another door. It’s going to take some political will to take the next step. There are a lot of things in play.”

Kendall officials said they only became aware of the funding possibilities last week, after hearing a report from the county’s liaison with the Kane-Kendall Council of Mayors, which funnels federal transportation money into area projects.

One of the things in play for Kendall officials is that section between Kennedy Road and Cross Street, where Klaas pointed out the state’s own figures show three to four times as much traffic as the section between I-80 and Caton Farm Road.

IDOT traffic maps show the average daily traffic on the southern end at about 5,000 a day, compared to 15,000 to 20,000 a day north of Yorkville

“I think we would be remiss if we didn’t look at north (of Yorkville),” said County Board member Amy Cesich. “At least it would keep it where it’s needed the most.”

Board member Matt Prochaska suggested the county send a copy of the letter to every area state legislator, area congressmen and to the chairmen of the Illinois House and Senate transportation committees.

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