Illinois and Indiana transportation officials are again recommending a route through central Will County as the path for a proposed interstate connecting Interstate 55 in Illinois with I-65 in Indiana.
The route, stretching 47 miles from north of Wilmington to Lowell, Ind., is the best of three alternatives for the so-called Illiana Expressway, officials said Wednesday.
It's the second time transportation planners have made the route their top choice.
The preferred route, known as Corridor B3 in plans, will provide the most travel benefits with minimal socioeconomic and environmental impacts, planners from both states' transportation departments said in a new report on the project.
"We weighed a lot of factors but (the route) represents the best blend of minimal impacts while delivering good travel performance," said Steve Schilke, program manager for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The three options have been discussed at several meetings attended by more than a thousand residents, property owners and officials in South Cook and Will counties, and Lake County, Ind., in recent months.
"Corridor B3 is viewed by many stakeholders as the (route) that best meets both the current and future needs of the region based on its ability to address traffic demands, provide a regional bypass to existing east-west congested areas and accommodate multi-purpose uses," the report said.
The recommendation will be included in a final environmental impact statement that state officials will submit to the Federal Highway Administration.
Federal officials could sign off on the recommended route by the end of the year, Schilke said.