Rochelle overpass dedicated to late Illinois Senator

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 5:34 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2022 at 7:13 PM CDT
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ROCHELLE, Ill. (WIFR) - A major throughway in Rochelle was dedicated Tuesday to the man who, in the late 1970s, secured funding to have it built.

City and state leaders remembered late Illinois Sen., John B. “Jack” Roe by dedicating the Route 251 overpass in his name. The ceremony took place at 11 Tuesday morning, Sept. 27 at the Flagg-Rochelle Library for the dedication.

Family and friends of Roe as well as Mayor John Bearrows, State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) and Illinois Sen. Brian Stewart (R-45) shared stories about Roe’s commitment to Rochelle during his time as a senator- resulting in the construction of the overpass, a much-needed improvement to connect the community.

“Jack Roe dedicated his career to serving people in Ogle County and the State of Illinois as a prosecutor, public defender, school board member, state circuit judge and in the General Assembly,” said Rep. Demmer. “His legacy includes many achievements, among one of the most notable being his successful efforts to obtain funding to build the much-needed overpass in Rochelle prior to the existence of I-39. It is truly a privilege to celebrate the dedication of this overpass in memory of Jack Roe with members of his family.”

A resolution unanimously passed in the Illinois House to designate the Illinois Route 251 overpass in honor of Sen. Roe in November 2021.

In the 1970s, Roe sponsored and passed legislation to secure funds for the freeway from Rockford to the west tollway extension of Rochelle.

At that time, U.S. Route 51 was the major north-south thoroughfare through Illinois- Rochelle had two sets of railroad tracks with as many as 80 trains a day going through the city, creating traffic delays of 15 to 20 minutes for each train. Consequently, Rochelle becomes known as “jamtown” and “delaysville” by truckers.

Roe secured the necessary funding to construct the Rochelle overpass to remedy the logjam and facilitate the flow of commerce. He passed away in November 2020 at the age of 78.