State Road Block

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The search is on to find state funding since many local leaders keep hitting a road block. Monday night regional ring leaders discussed what actions government and businesses leaders can take to make it easier for planes, trains and automobiles.

It seems that one of the major bumps in the road right now is the State of Illinois. The state is in the middle of deciding were money should be spent. Meanwhile, federal funding has been secured through a new highway bill. Congressman Don Manzullo released information to this group that $8.7 million for transportation projects is heading in our direction.

City of Rockford Traffic Engineer Steve Ernst says, "The problem is that we don't have state funds that match. Just the typical highway investment projects we’re not getting. So that's the message we wanted to bring."

But not all the information being dished out was negative. Leaders learned that compliments of the federal government, $4 million is set to expand Rt. 20 to four lanes from Freeport to Galena.

Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp states, "It's a start to show that we are not being left behind. We hope the State of Illinois continues to fund projects."

$2 million is slated to improve Illinois Route 2 and another $2 million will help continue the work along West State Street.

Mary Sylvester who is concerned about roads and the rail initiative says, "You realize it costs so much and requires so much effort to get smaller sections done."

The state is also working on the I-90/173 interchange, an upgrade to Beltline Road, and directions of travel around the Winnebago Criminal Justice Center. State road officials in the audience say they pay very close attention when citizens give specific driving instructions.

Deputy Director Region 2 Engineer Illinois Department of Transportation Greg Mounts states, "A lot of communities give mixed messages so were never sure how to target which project, but Rockford has the Better Roads Initiative and often we hear one unified voice"

Various road projects that Monday night’s group of leaders agrees are critical to regional development.

The state is looking at different revenue builders. One idea is a 75-cent cigarette tax.