ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The I-90 East State Street interchange is known by some as the Gateway to Rockford, but in a few weeks those ramps will be closed for repairs.
The cones are already up on the East State Street and I-90 interchange. While construction crews are ready to tear up the ramps and lay down new concrete, drivers aren't.
"I can't imagine the detouring and whatever else people will be doing to get where they need to go. That's the whole reason the ramp is there. Inconvenient to say the least," Aleta Boyette, a Rockford resident, said.
“It kind of sucks because it’s kind of my shortcut to get to Riverside, to get to the new YMCA sometimes," Jovan Henderson, a Rockford resident, said.
The closures and detours haven't started yet. Right now crews are just working on the shoulders, but drivers should be prepared. The Illinois Tollway says starting in mid-September it's closing the exit and entrance ramps that bring drivers in from Wisconsin and take them out towards Chicago. We can expect it to be like that for six weeks. That has some hotels right around the interchange worried about frustrated guests and a lag in business.
"That exit and entry is very important. That brings a lot of revenue in and to have to find a different entry for other people, people that might not even know about it, might be a really bit of an inconvenience for them," Ricardo Kuri, who works at the front desk of the Residence Inn, said.
Kuri says at the Residence Inn they'll probably hand out information to guests warning them about the construction and have details on detours to help them get around.
“State Street is a gateway to Rockford and rebuilding this interchange is critical to our work to rebuild the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway as a 21st century, state-of-the-art corridor linking Rockford to O'Hare International Airport,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “To minimize the impact of construction on customers, the Tollway is beginning the highest impact work after the Labor Day weekend holiday with the goal to complete the project before the holiday shopping season.”
During the week of August 26, work to rebuild the four ramps at this full-access interchange will begin with permanent shoulder closures and traffic shifts during off-peak hours. All ramps will remain open during this phase of the project. After Labor Day, construction will begin simultaneously on all four ramps.
The Tollway will use traffic shifts and shoulders to keep as many lanes open during peak hours as were available before construction. However, the exit and entrance ramps to eastbound I-90 - carrying traffic from Wisconsin and to Chicago - are scheduled to close to traffic for approximately six weeks beginning in mid-September. Electronic message signs and directional signs will be put in place in advance to alert drivers to the closures and posted detours.
Full closure of the eastbound entrance and exit ramps is necessary because they are too narrow to safely accommodate traffic during construction. In addition to providing a safe work zone for construction workers and drivers, closure of the ramps will allow work to be completed in half the time and reduce the impact on Tollway traffic.
The construction schedule and detours are being coordinated with the city of Rockford, the village of Cherry Valley, Winnebago County and the Illinois Department of Transportation. Up to 12,000 vehicles use Business U.S. Route 20/State Street Interchange daily, with about 7,000 vehicles using the ramps that will be detoured.
The Business U.S. Route 20/State Street Interchange project is part of the 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future. The $5 million project is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2013. Construction project and detour information is also available in the “Projects By Roadway” section in the Construction/Planning section on the Tollway’s website at www.illinoistollway.com.