Economic Development Drives Road Projects

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It's the kind of problem a city likes to have: more traffic because of job expansion, and that's certainly the case in Belvidere.

The city is now creating a plan to deal with increased traffic because of the recent Chrysler expansion.

As the Belvidere Chrysler plant expands, so will the traffic around it. The number of cars and trucks in that area could rev up by several hundred per hour.

"Townhall Road is where the action's going to be," says Jeffrey Linkenheld, project manager for Arc Design Resources.

Arc Design engineers have been hired by the city to map out the possibilities. Three new drives could be added out of the Chrysler Plant along Townhall. New turn lanes and traffic signals around the plant are also on the table.

"All those things are being considered so the amount of traffic will be able to move safely in and out of the plant," says Belvidere public works director Craig Lawler.

Traffic counts have already been taken. Arc says land surveyors will be out in the next few weeks so they can begin to draw a design, a process that will take a lot of time, but to city leaders, a process that’s well worth it.

"It's economic development, it's expansion, these are the good headaches to have if you're going to have them," says Lawler.

These road projects, Lawler says, will likely cost more than $100 million. As far as funding, the city will ask for the state's help. Belvidere is planning to apply for economic development grants which would cover at least half of the bill.

The city is working on an agreement with Chrysler to fund the remaining portion of the project. Arc engineers expect to have their recommendations complete by April 8.