Safety Issues with Bridge Removal in Boone County

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BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) -- Some big concerns from Boone County farmers on how they're being impacted by the I-90 rebuilding and widening project. It includes tearing down and replacing several bridges with the exception of the one on Johnson Road. Now, Spring Township residents feel construction is putting their lives and those of drivers, at risk.

Lisa Fitzgerald is worried about traveling to her cattle farm near Johnson Road.

"It's just very scary to know if they close that bridge, we now have to travel down through Genoa Road, on the I-90 intersection," said Fitzgerald.

Although it's a shorter route, that means Lisa will take a dangerous two mile drive through Wal-Mart's parking lot everyday, something Lisa has tried to avoid by taking rural roads. The Illinois Tollway Authority will rebuild several bridges like Genoa Road to fit I-90's expanded lanes, but Johnson road won't be one of them. Tollway officials say fixing it would be a waste of money, since it isn't used as much.

Without that bridge, first responders will have a hard time to help residents.

"If somebody was having a heart attack or if there was a fire, it's going to add several minutes to the response time, in simple terms," said Mel Johnson Boone County Fire District Chief.

Something residents, like Lisa, aren't looking forward to.

"It's just going to be a real nightmare. I don't know how they're going to do it, I really don't. They're going to have to go way out of their way to even get to their fields. I mean, it' just insane," said Fitzgerald.

It looks like the Tollway Authority hears those concerns. They say closing the Johnson Road Bridge is just an option at this point. Construction to remove and rebuild other local bridges is expected to begin this summer.

Many buses in the Belvidere School District use the Johnson Road Bridge. Superintendent Michael Houselog says a few routes will change, but kids will still be on the bus for less than an hour.