An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) documents possible significant impacts to the natural and built environment as a result of a major transportation improvement.
More information such as project background, agency and public participation, advisory groups, and project development can be found in the Stakeholder Involvement Plan (SIP).
Currently, there are no funds allocated to construct this studied section of US 51.
CSS is an approach to public involvement which involves working with stakeholders to develop roadways that fit into and reflect the project’s surroundings – its “context.” As part of CSS, five Community Advisory Groups (CAGs) and one Regional Advisory Group (RAG) were formed for communities directly impacted by the US 51 alignment. The CAG and RAG consists of stakeholders that represent farmers, residents, government officials, business leaders, and special interest groups. Throughout this project the CAG and RAG members participate in meetings that focus on the issues that most concern the community in relation to the US 51 project. More information on the CSS process can be found here.
CSS is relatively new to the State of Illinois. It became official policy for the Department of Transportation in August of 2005. The previous sections of Route 51 (Panal on north to Rockford) did not utilize CSS.
Through the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process, the public has been involved in many of the steps taken in developing the corridors. Numerous preliminary corridor options were developed by the various advisory groups comprised of local shareholders– corridors that proposed an alignment through the center of the communities, and corridors that go around the communities. These corridors were discussed by the advisory groups and analyzed with respect to their compliance to Purpose & Need. The criteria used to evaluate the alternatives were developed using input from the public. However, all final decisions are made by IDOT and FWHA.
The Purpose and Need statement is the heart of the Environmental Impact Statement. It is the Purpose and Need of a project to which IDOT is responding by studying alternatives in a proposed action. Through the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process, the Purpose and Need was developed using public input through the advisory group meetings. The Purpose and Need Statement can be found here.
In maintaining connectivity and continuity as identified in the Purpose and Need Statement, it would not be possible to develop a free-flow condition (limited access, no main-line stop signs or signals) through the larger towns. Alternatives through the towns that maintained free flow conditions were developed during the analysis but were eliminated from further consideration, due in part to the large number of business displacements.
Travel time is a function of both speed and distance. The construction of four lanes with a uniform speed limit does provide benefits to travelers. The proposed Route 51 would operate at a 65 mph speed limit in a free-flow condition – without signals or stop-control. The existing Route 51 through the communities would remain as it currently exists with a 30 or 35 mph speed limit subject to signals and stop signs where they currently exist. Roadway operations of alternatives, including distance of travel and travel time, were evaluated considering these differences in the posted speed limit.
Potential impacts to businesses will be evaluated for the alternatives under consideration and access to local commercial districts or businesses will be considered. Existing US 51 will remain in use at its present location. More details will be available as the EIS study progresses.
In the corridor development, it was assumed that minimizing impacts to private residences and farms would be a preferable objective with a majority of the stakeholders. However, it would be impossible to avoid all impacts to residences and farms. At this point in the analysis details are not refined to the level where individual impacts can be identified. Impacts to residences and farms will be determined during the next stage of the EIS process, the refinement of recommended alternatives. Impacted property owners will be contacted individually when a recommended alternative has been chosen. Information regarding land acquisition compensation will be provided to all impacted property owners after individual impacts are finalized.
The funding for this study comes from a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) earmark. This money is dedicated to the improvement of our nation’s transportation infrastructure. It is intended for use on projects that are related to maintaining and enhancing transportation facilities and cannot be used elsewhere
Since late January 2008, there have been nine Public Information Meetings throughout the project corridor, five Community Advisory Group (CAG) meetings in each community directly impacted by US 51, three Regional Advisory Group (RAG) meetings, and opportunity to communicate through the project website, the project e-mail address, or by contacting the US 51 comment line. The public meetings were advertised in the local newspapers and radio stations, and flyers were distributed in public facilities, including libraries. Visit Ways to Get Involved on this website for more details, including how to sign up for the mailing list.