Fri., Nov. 6, 1998
Clear sailing on I-270 by Dec. 15
By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT
EDWARDSVILLE -- Highway officials plan to unwrap Interstate 270 by Christmas.
The frustrating maze of barrels, barricades and temporary lane changes will be gone by Dec. 15, said Jim Easterly, district engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
About 50,000 drivers a day will be allowed to resume the normal 55 mph speed limit, instead of the 45 mph limit with the barriers in place.
"It has been frustrating for motorists, but the good news is that all the traffic control devices should be gone by mid-December,'' Easterly said.
Workers are replacing bridges and putting down a new surface on an 11-mile stretch of I-270 between Illinois Route 111 and the Chain of Rocks Canal Bridge.
Two contracting firms, Keller Construction Co. of Edwardsville and Keeley and Sons of East St. Louis, have been working on the project since June 1996.
The federal and state government are spending $48 million on the work, with the federal government's share 90 percent, the state's 10 percent.
Easterly said the bridges were built when the original highway was built in the 1960s and were becoming worn out from constant heavy use.
The project will not be completed, however, with the removal of the barriers.
"There will be some minor resurfacing next spring, but we can complete that during off-peak drive times and open it back up again when the traffic is heavier,'' Easterly said.
The Keeley and Keller partnership will also team up to build a bicycle trail bridge over the Chain of Rocks Canal.
Contractors recently finished work on the first six miles of Illinois 255 between I-270 and Wood River.
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