Road Plan

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

Over a year ago, county leaders and residents cut the ribbon on the Harrison-Springfield extension on Rockford's far west side. The $15 million project was heralded as a road to economic development for the neighborhood, but local residents are still waiting for the windfall.

Steven Lineberry has lived along Springfield Avenue for 24 years.

"The west side of Rockford still has a bad reputation, and until things get turned around substantially I don't think that's going to change," says Lineberry.

There have been some signs of improvement, a new subdivision on Springfield north of State Street, the demolition of an eyesore, but that's about all.

"Nobody is going to sink money into a depressed area," says Lineberry.

But some Winnebago County leaders say road projects like this are the key to moving our economy forward.

"Infrastructure is probably the most important thing to any area. If you want to bring business in from the outside, you have to have avenues of coming in," says county board member, Randy Olson.

The county is considering borrowing $50 million for road projects over the next few years. Most of the projects are on the city's northeast side, which has some county leaders upset.

They say the west side needs attention too where roads are riddled with potholes and there are no sidewalks or curbs, but Olson says the county has to focus on smart growth.

"You have to be practical. We'd like to say we can divide the money equally among the county. That's not going to happen because you've got the growth right now on the northeast," Says Olson.

The republican says this is a good time to borrow because of low interest rates. Meanwhile, a study is underway to look at ways to develop the Harrison-Springfield corridor.


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