A particularly dangerous portion of Interstate 80 near Chicago is up for a safety upgrade, officials say.
The portion of I-80 in question is a two-lane, 15 mile stretch from Route 30 in New Lenox to River Road in Minooka, Illinois – an area that is home to frequent accidents and miles-long traffic backups.
“There’s a lot of truck traffic and only two lanes,” said Joe Pecora, a local resident of the area.
“Every week we see a rollover, fatality or back up,” said local resident Ryan Micheletto, speaking specifically of semi truck accidents.
A study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute shows that there have been 37 fatal crashes on that stretch of road during the last 15 years, prompting the Illinois Department of Transportation to launch a study searching for acceptable, effective improvements to increase safety in the area – a study that is scheduled to begin by the end of 2018.
Though the highway was not included in a recent study on America’s most dangerous highways, a group of concerned citizens have even formed their own group in support of improvements to I-80, called “Residents United for Safer Highways.”
“Traffic here has increased exponentially, and roads are not built to sustain the traffic,” said Frank Manzo IV of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute.
Traffic on the roadway is comprised of 25% semi trucks, a number caused by a large number of warehouses in the area, reported CBS Local Chicago.
For now, the Illinois Department of Transportation has proposed a $3 million plan to begin improvements by the end of the year, but claims it will take nearly $1 billion for a “full modernization” of the roadway.
“What we need in the meantime are short term measures, whether it’s signage or declaring the roadway (as) a hazardous zone,” said member of RUSH and local radio personality Scott Slocum.