Roads of the Mid-South & West > Highways of the State of Illinois > Proposed Eastern By-Pass; Bloomington-Normal, Illinois

The proposed eastern by-pass around Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.

Map from Rand
The green line is the proposed north-south highway.
The orange line is the proposed east-west extention.
The dashed blue line is the future I-39 extention.

Officals in the Bloomington-Normal Area are looking toward the future with a proposed expressway along the metros east side. This would give a highway link between Interstate 55, between Normal and Towanda, and Interstate 74, near Downs. The highway would run along the Towanda-Barnes Road corridor. It would give better access to the Central Illinois Regional Airport on Illinois State Route 9, Empire Street. Recently, Veterans Parkway, Busn. Loop I-55, was widened to 6-lanes along the east and southeast side of the metro. The new highway was proposed just as work was finishing on the re-construction of Veterans Parkway. This raised a few eyebrows in the proposed corridor zone.

As a north-south highway is being considered, a east-west highway south of Bloomington is also being suggested. This would extened the proposed north-south expressway west from Interstate 74 to U.S. Rt. 51, proposed Interstate 39 extention.

A article in Sunday April 27th, 2003's Pantagraph (Bloomington-Normal, Illinois) stated that Mc Lean County Engineer Jack Mitchell said the plans are being pushed now because consultants predict a need for an east-side road within the next 20 years. The main local road that this would replace would be county road 2000 east. It would relieve pressure on Veterans Parkway and Towanda-Barnes Road.

The highway is set for 2 seperate phases.

Phase one would include large interchanges at Interstate 55 and Interstate 74. Smaller interchanges at the north and south ends of Towanda-Barnes Road, Fort Jesse Road, Illinois State Route 9, Ireland Grove Road, and U.S. Rt. 150.

The expressway plans have shifted over the years. Orginially the highway was to closer to Towanda-Barnes Road. Now the plan sets with the highway one mile east of Towanda-Barnes Road. This give room for further development on the east side of the metro.

Also, the new southern leg proposal was not part of the orginal plan. The southern leg is set to run from Interstate 74 to U.S. Rt. 51. This last segment could be either two or four lanes. It would be the second phase of the by-pass. A article in Sunday, May 4th, 2003's Pantagraph, stated that the plan was added after the public wanted better access from U.S. Rt. 51 and the Central Illinois Regional Airport along with other major east-side employers.

In August, 2005 President Bush signed $800,000 to study the eastside highway corridor.*

Both the City of Bloomington and the Town of Normal have set aside 2,500-foot wide corridors in their comprehensive plans. Overtime a study will see if the corridor should be 500 or 300 feet wide.**

Environmentalists are concerned that the four-mile extension could damage the Kickapoo Creek area. Right now this portion is just under discussion.***

A survey conducted by Clark Dietz from Champaign found that limiting sprawl and preserving agricultural and rural areas rank more important than having better access to Interstates 55 and 74. The southern link from Interstate 74 to U.S. 51 was deemed low importance. The intersection of Towanda-Barnes Road and Empire Street (IL 9) stands to see a 178% growth in traffic from 2005 to 2035.****

Mc Lean County has recieved a $800,000 federal grant to use to conduct a study for the project as required by the states COntext Sensitive Solutions review process. The stusy is expected to cost $1.1 million.*****
*Pantagraph; Bloomington-Normal, IL 14 August 2005
**Pantagraph; Bloomington-Normal, IL 18 March 2006
***Pantagraph; Bloomington-Normal, IL 20 March 2006
****Pantagraph: Bloomington-Normal, IL 17 July 2007
*****Pantagraph: Bloomington-Normal, IL 28 March 2008