Douglas Schnell - President Mailing address: P.O. Box 6103 Taylorville, IL 62568-2113
April 2, 2003
United States Senator James Inhofe
Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Dear Chairman Inhofe:
Project 29 Inc. was founded in January of 1993 after a fatal auto accident in December of 1992 that took the life of 29-year-old Melody Traughber of Taylorville, Illinois. Melody’s name was added to the list of persons killed on this outdated two-lane roadway. Today the list now tops over 33 victims from Rochester to Pana. The lists of personal injury accidents are into the hundreds.
Melody’s friends and family decided that the goal of this grassroots organization would be to work to bring a four lane Illinois Route 29 to Sangamon and Christian County. Having four-lane highway from Rochester to Pana to improve safety and promote economic development not only to Sangamon and Christian Counties, but all of Central Illinois.
In 1993 Project 29 Inc. Presented 12,000 names to Governor Jim Edgar who started feasibility study for four lanes from Rochester to Taylorville.
During 1997 the State announced that no money was included in the budget for Illinois Route 29. With the assistance of Congressman John Shimkus in April of that year 1.7 million dollars, federal funds was obtained, this was the first time federal money had been obtained for the Illinois Route 29 Project. This 1.7 million dollars was used to complete the engineering study.
During Governor’s election in April of 1998 copies of information was sent to The Governor Candidates. George Ryan’s campaign responded, naming IL Route 29 as one of the top downstate road projects, if elected.
George Ryan was elected and followed through with his promise, with Illinois First some 39 million dollars are set for construction between Rochester and Taylorville.
As noted in a June 16, 2000 letter from Illinois Secretary of Transportation Kirk Brown 6.7 miles remain unfunded.
This section is 6.7 miles long from 2.1 miles north of the Christian County Line to approximately 1.1 miles south of Edinburg. Estimated cost in 2000 was 25.2 million dollars.
During April 2002 current Governor Rod Blagojevich was mailed petitions signed by over 10,000 people who support IL Route 29. Enclosed you will find a letter of support from Governor Blagojevich.
In February of 2003 Congressman John Shimkus announced that 1.2 million dollars in additional federal money had been obtained to assist with engineering on the remaining 6.3 miles that remain unfunded.
Today we ask that your committee consider the 25.2 million dollars needed to fund the remaining 6.3 miles of improvements.
It is estimated that up to 17,000 motorists travel Illinois Route 29 daily between Springfield and Taylorville. To leave a 6.3-mile section in the middle unfunded will take traffic from four-lane back to two and returning back to four.
It is our contention that this will elevate the danger of additional personal injury and fatal auto accidents. We also believe that business and development look at the quality of the transportation system and having a completed four lane highway will not only improve economic development, it will also improve the quality of life for al in a multi county area of Central Illinois.
The following pages you will find a listing of the names of the persons killed on what the media refers too as Central Illinois “most dangerous highway”, letters of support from current and former officials, news reports, including resolutions from local Governments
We ask that your committee review this request, and give consideration to make construction of Illinois Route 29 From Rochester to Taylorville 100% complete.
Douglas Schnell President
Illinois Department of Transportation
Office of the Secretary
2300 South Dirksen Parkway/ Springfield, Illinois / 62764
June 16, 2000
Mr. Doug Schnell, President Elect Project 29, Inc.
P.O. Box 6103
Taylorville, Illinois 62568-6103
Dear Mr. Schnell:
Thank you for your May 23, 2000 letter regarding funding for Illinois 29 from Governor George H. Ryan’s Illinois FIRST program. We are pleased that Illinois FIRST gives the department the ability to begin construction of two important sections of Illinois 29 between Rochester and Taylorville. Construction projects and associated work totaling $39 million are programmed to complete 9.6 miles of new four-lane pavement on the total distance of 16.3 miles.
This work includes new four-lane construction for 5.1 miles from Rochester to 2.1 miles north of the Christian County line that is programmed during FY 2001-2005 at a total cost of $20.1 million. Of this total, engineering for contract plans is programmed in FY 2001 at a cost of $1.4 million.
In addition, new four-lane construction for 4.5 miles from approximately 1.1 miles south of Edinburg to 1.5 miles north of Illinois 104 at Taylorville is programmed during FY 2001-2005 at a cost of $18.9 million. ‘ Of this total, engineering for contract plans is programmed in FY 2001 at a cost of $1.6 million.
You specifically inquired about the remaining section that is currently unfunded. This section is 6.7 miles long from 2.1 miles north of the Christian County line to approximately 1.1 miles south of Edinburg. Construction, engineering for contract plans, land acquisition, utilities, and an archaeological survey for this section are unfunded at an estimated cost of $25.2 million.
We appreciate your support and interest in this highway project.