U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   04/07/2003
 
336 Coalition
TEA-21 Reauthorization

336 Coalition
“Gateway to Western Illinois”
P.O. Box 761 • Canton, Illinois 61520

April 4, 2003

Chairman James Inhofe
Senate Committee on Environment And Public Works

Dear Mr. Chairman,

We are excited to provide you and your committee information on the 336 Coalition and its mission to assist the Illinois Department of Transportation in the building of a four lane highway connecting Peoria, IL, to Macomb, IL, running through Fulton County.

Enclosed you will find information pertaining to many of the issues we feel you will find of importance as you consider this vital project’s place of importance in the upcoming TEA-3 federal bill under consideration.

Again, thank you for this opportunity. We stand ready to answer any questions or provide any additional information you may need.

Sincerely,

Mark W. Johann President
336 Coalition

Our Request

The 336 Coalition is urging support for inclusion of demonstration funds in the upcoming TEA-3 Federal Transportation Bill. The Illinois Department of Transportation has estimated that their continued funding needs to enter Phase II of this project will be $14.4 million.

These funds would allow progress on a four lane highway linking Peoria, IL, to Macomb, IL, to proceed to Phase II of the project. This highway will be a continuation of Rt. 336, which is currently fully funded and under construction from Quincy, IL, to Macomb, IL.

The Need for the Highway

The overwhelming need in Fulton County is for modern 4-lane highway access to, amongst many other things, spur economic growth and stave off general economic decline. Currently, Fulton County’s unemployment rate stands at 11.6%, second highest in the state. For the past 20 years, Fulton County has been at the top of the state’s unemployment charts. The area was hit hard when International Harvester closed its Canton production facility and when the coal mining business in Illinois went virtually out of business.

Enclosed you will find an Analysis of the Presence of Four Lane Highways and Unemployment Rates for thirty (30) of the largest counties in Illinois. It reveals the following:

· By land area, Fulton County is the 10th largest county in the State of Illinois. Of the seventeen (17) largest counties in the State, Fulton County is the only county without any 4-lane highways within its borders.

· Since 1980, Fulton County’s unemployment rate has not recovered. It is nearly double the state and national average and currently continues to be the highest amongst the 30 Counties listed in the analysis. As of February 2003, the unemployment rate hovered at 11.6% second highest for all counties in Illinois.

· Of the 30 largest counties in the state of Illinois (by land size), only three (3) do not have any 4-lane highways running within their borders. Fulton County has the largest population of the three.

· Of the twenty-seven (27) largest Counties (by land size) having a 4-lane highway running within their borders, seven (7) of those counties have a lesser population than does Fulton County.

Please reference enclosed analysis (data as of April 2002).

Estimated Costs

Phase I of the Peoria to Macomb portion of Illinois 336 is fully funded at a cost of $12.5 million. Those funds were made available by way of the Illinois First program.

Officially, the Illinois Department of Transportation is projecting the ultimate cost to be in the range of $800 million. IDOT’s projection contemplates the effects of inflation and the uncertainty of the time of completion.

An excerpt from the 336 Coalition’s website state that the cost for completion of Phase II and Phase III could ranged from $250 million to $400 million with that range anticipating completion within the next ten (10) to fifteen (15) years.

Timetable

It has been said that it can take as long as twenty (20) years or more to build a four-lane highway. Some argue that is has already taken nearly thirty (30) years for this highway dating back to an original plan that was a component of the Chicago to Kansas City Highway.

Given the depressed economic conditions that exist in the Fulton County area of Illinois, it is essential to the future of this area that this project moves forward as quickly as possible.

Going forward, the timetable will very much depend on having the remaining funding available as DOT proceeds through each of the three phases. If funding is available, it could _take as few as ten years to see the highway completed. Portions of the highway could be opened to traffic as various segments are completed.

Current Status

In late 2002, the Illinois Department of Transportation awarded contracts to URS Consultants to assist in the formation of Phase I planning. Those efforts are currently underway with focus groups and fieldwork in process. IDOT anticipates being able to define a preferred corridor for the segment running from Peoria to Macomb by the spring of 2004. The alignment portion of Phase one will commence immediate thereafter and it too is also fully funded.

Proposed Route

Enclosed you will find a map provided by the Transportation Task Force of the Tri-State Commission. The Tri-State Commission represents interests in portions of South-Eastern Iowa, North-Eastern Missouri, and West-Central Illinois.

The map identifies the potential corridors for the highway from Peoria to Macomb as a “Priority Corridor”. It is represented on the map with red hash marks.

The importance of this highway is evident on its own merits. When viewed in conjunction with highway projects that could develop in the greater Peoria area (providing improved connections to the greater Chicago metropolitan area of Illinois) it becomes even more essential to all of Illinois.

The 336 Coalition-Background

The 336 Coalition is a group of concerned citizens, businesses, government officials, and communities focused on the construction of a four-lane highway running from Peoria to Macomb.

This highway project will be a continuation of a new four-lane highway currently under construction (with 20+ miles open for use) connecting Quincy, IL, to Macomb, IL. Ultimately, it will become part of as system that will provide economic development opportunities along its path as well as providing the means to open West-Central Illinois to Central and Eastern Illinois. This project will also provide additional commerce from Chicago to Kansas City. In fact, over thirty (30) years ago, this portion of highway was a component of the original Chicago to Kansas City highway.

The 336 Coalition started its efforts in late 1998 and evolved out of a community mapping effort that identified the lack of adequate four lane surface transportation as the most critical need to bring growth to the West Central Illinois area. The lack of a modern four-lane highway was also viewed as the greatest cause of stagnant to declining populations and economies in many of the area’s communities and for the highest unemployment rates in the State of Illinois. The Coalition later discovered strong support in the Peoria, Macomb, and Quincy for the benefits Highway 336 could bring to those areas of Illinois. The Greater Peoria Airport would also be a benefactor of our efforts.

The 336 Coalition has grown to include members from most, if not all, of the communities between Peoria and Macomb. There are over 40 resolutions of support from various city and county governments in addition to other important organizations such as the Fulton County Farm Bureau.

The semi-annual 336 Update is a newsletter that currently has a mailing and e-mail list of over 4,000 subscribers. You can find current and past issues of the 336 Update via the link on this site.

The name of the Coalition was christened from Illinois 336 that is under construction (and fully funded) connecting Quincy and Macomb. Portions are currently open to traffic with the remainder scheduled to be completed by 2006. Illinois 336 would be the logical extension running from Macomb to Peoria and is, in fact, referenced as such by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Additional Information

Additional information is available via the 336 Coalition’s website:

www.336coalition.com

Or by contacting:

Mark W. Johann President
336 Coalition
P.O. Box 761
Canton, IL 61520