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Author Topic: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article  (Read 11113 times)

roadgeek

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U.S. Route 50 Four-Lane Expressway

Build It And They Will Come...But Not Anytime Soon

By Bill Oliver



About 46 local residents attended a special public meeting Thursday
night sponsored by the Illinois Department of Transportation as part
of a feasibility study on the proposed widening of U.S. Route 50 from
a two-lane highway to a four-lane expressway from Lawrenceville to
Salem.

The turnout for the Flora meeting was about average according to Lee
Austen, project manager for STS Consultants, the firm employed by IDOT
to coordinate the project and conduct the feasibility studies.
Thursday night's meeting was the last of four sessions which included
Olney, Salem, and Lawrenceville.

"There were some very good questions and some legitimate concerns,"
Austen said, "but everyone seemed to agree that they are for the four-
laned road."

Represenatives of the Illinois Department of Transportation and STS
Consultants, LTD., were available to answer questions, explain
exhibits, and discuss the study process and scope of the highway plan.

Plans to widen Route 50 into a four-lane expressway have been on and
off the shelf for the last four decades. The current plan is for a 75-
mile stretch of four-lane expressway from Lawrenceville to Salem.

"Other road projects have taken priority and funding," Austen said,
"but I really believe this project will become a reality if we all
work together."

Austen said if and when the widening process begins, it will probably
be done in five to ten mile sections.

"It won't be completed all at once," he said.

Austen estimated the total cost of the project will be over $1
billion. However, he added that there are no funds allocated for the
project at the present time.

Among the issues being addressed for the feasibility study are:

*Can improvements be accomplished without creating possible negative
effects on social, economic and environmental aspects?

*Will the improvements allow traffic to move more efficiently and
safely?

*Will the benefits outweigh the costs?

In the Flora area, Austen said the expressway would be a definite
advantage for Industrial Park, and it could lead to further
development along the route.

"If there is going to be any major retail development in Flora, it
will more than likely be along the highway and not in the downtown
area," he said. "The four-lane would be very positive for future
growth. And perhaps, in time, some of that growth would move to the
downtown area." Austen said that there is a daily average of about 6,
000 vehicles that pass Flora on Route 50 at the present time.

Austen said all of the communities involved in the project must work
together and make their voices heard in Springfield.

"People are going to have to work together and work with the other
counties," he said. "There are only so many dollars in the state's
coffers, and the areas that get those dollars first are the ones that
pull together."

Although U.S. Route 50 is a federal highway, Illinois is footing the
bill for the feasibility studies which will determine what federal
funding will become available should the plans for the expressway
become a reality.

Although he feels positive that the four-lane project will someday be
completed. Austen is also realistic.

"I don't anticipate driving on it in my lifetime."


PART 2


Route 50 Four-Lane Expansion Just Five Years Away...In 1974


If the traffic along U.S. Route 50 moved as slowly as the wheels of
government, we would also still be using oats for fuel.

The Illinois Department of Transportation conducted a public meeting
last week as part of a feasibility study to get input on the
possibility of turning U.S. Route 50 from Lawrenceville to Salem into
a four-lane expressway. It's not a new idea. In fact, it's been on and
off the shelf for several decades.

For example, back in December of 1973, Illinois Governor Dan Walker
signed a Regional Transit System bill that would nearly have
guaranteed a four-lane highway around Flora extending from Clay City
to Xenia. Also attached to that bill was a statewide lottery.

The downstate freeway system was a point of bitter contention all year
between downstate Republicans and the Governor. Finally, the downstate
legislators were able to get the freeway bill incorporated into the
Governor's top priority legislation. State Represenative Roscoe
Cunningham played a major role in the battle for better roads through
Flora.

The four-lane project from Clay City to Xenia was part of a long-range
plan for a four-lane freeway between Vincennes, Indiana, and St.
Louis.

In the bill, $9.5 million was appropriated for the 15-mile stretch
from Clay City to Xenia. It included $500,000 for a study and $9
million for the actual land acquisition and construction.

One of the loopholes for the four-lane Flora bypass funding was "time.
" There were only six months to spend the money before the fiscal year
ended. If it wasn't spent before June 30th, 1974, it would revert back
to the state's general fund.

It was beginning to look as though the four-lane bypass would become a
reality - but, of course, it didn't.

In the spring of 1974, the Illinois Department of Transportation
publicly stated that the start of a four-lane freeway between Carlyle
and Vincennes was about five to seven years away. H.L. Weir, District
7 Engineer for IDOT was the guest speaker at a meeting of the Embarras
Regional Planning and Development Commission in April of 1974. The
Embarras Commission represented Clay, Jasper, Richland, Lawrence, and
Crawford counties and had local government officials from each county
working together for the betterment of the five-county area.

The four-lane road now on the table was still part of the Regional
Transit Authority proposal and about $200 million had been set aside
for the project.

Weir said at the time that planning for sections of the freeway was
underway, but it would be some time before funds were secured and
construction started.

He said several steps had to be completed before the start of
construction. First, IDOT had to get corridor approval for a path for
the new four-lane road. Then, an environmental impact study would have
to be made on the corridor. IDOT would then have to design all aspects
of the highway. He said the entire process would take between five and
seven years.

Weir detailed some of the progress being made on various segments of
the four-lane highway.

He said the design for the stretch from Carlyle to Xenia had been
completed and IDOT was awaiting environmental hearings.

Approval had been given to finalize the design and hold hearings on
the stretch from Xenia to Clay City. The corridor from Clay City to
Lawrenceville had also been selected, but approval was being held up
because of a controversy over taking the highway through Red Hill
State Park.

Clay County Engineer Roger Edmison asked Weir if his department had
come up with a site for the Clay City interchange on the new road.
Edmision said there were concerns about the interchange taking
property inside village limits.

Weir said the final location of the interchange was undecided and that
a site about a mile east of Clay City was being studied along with the
site at the intersection with Clay City's Main Street.

Weir also told the meeting that a contract for improvement of U.S. 45
from Louisville north to the Clay County line was let, but the bids
were 10 percent over the estimate.

So, over thirty years ago a Route 50 four-lane expansion was in the
planning stages and those plans are once again resurfacing. But, as
Lee Austen, project manager for the current feasibility study said at
last Thursday's public meeting, those among us now living will
probably never drive on the U.S. 50 expressway. But he is confident it
will be constructed...somday.



THE HOMETOWN JOURNAL
CLAY COUNTY, ILLINOIS
APRIL 3, 2006
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rmsandw

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2009, 07:39:15 PM »

Interesting...It looks as they did get to the buying of land stages in Clay and Richland counties for the most part when I was through several years ago.  It would be nice to have it go from the IN line to I-57.  I say it be a I-557!!!

Chris

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2009, 06:14:42 AM »

Expressway as in; at grade intersections?

Interesting though, it would provide a more direct high-capacity route between St. Louis and Cincinnati, although I don't think the route via I-70/I-74 is much longer.

According to Google Maps:

I-70/I-74 route: 349 miles
US 50 route: 344 miles
I-64/I-71 route 366 miles

That's less than I thought. The only real advantage would be to avoid either Louisville or Indianapolis, but I don't think their congestion is that bad to avoid them at all costs. So it would be more of an advantage for local communities and local economy.

Revive 755

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2009, 06:51:34 PM »

According to Google Maps:

I-70/I-74 route: 349 miles
US 50 route: 344 miles
I-64/I-71 route 366 miles

Maybe if they actually build something between St. Louis and Cincinnati someday, they should make it straighter, as I get 308 miles for a straight line between downtown St. Louis (interchange at the west end of the PSB) and downtown Cincinnati (I-71/I-75 interchange), but it involves going into Kentucky briefly.  At the very least they should use a new southern alignment between Brownstown and Dillsboro in Indiana (takes US 50 it out of Versailles State Park).

I-70 between St. Louis and Indianapolis could use an alternate anyway, which a US 50 expressway would provide when tied into the I-69 extension.
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Revive 755

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2009, 06:43:22 PM »

Section of US 50 between Lawrenceville and Olney selected for widening study:
http://www.olneydailymail.com/news/x593079160/Coalition-selects-segment-of-U-S-50-for-study
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3467

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2009, 11:30:13 PM »

The US 50 corridor wa salso the original Interstate 64 corridor 64 was moved south and 50 was put on the supllemental freeway sytem in 1966 and the rest is in the articles
Does anyone know why only the 57 to IN section was studies Not the 57 to St Louis Section?
If I were in the 50 group I would try to get the Delta Development Region Extended to Interstate 70
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roadgeek

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2010, 07:24:36 PM »

Finally an update!

IT’S A GO: U.S. 50 environmental, design study bid awarded

Olney, Ill. — Members of the U.S. Route 50 Coalition heard concrete news Friday that the time and money had been put behind making U.S. Route 50 four-laned is paying off.

Sherry Phillips, with the Illinois Department of Transportation, told participants in the group’s first annual golf outing that the consultant for phase I of the project had been announced.

Hutchison Engineering, out of Jacksonville, Ill., has been awarded the contract which includes environmental and design work on a stretch of road that goes from Lawrenceville to near the Wal-Mart Distribution Center west of Olney.

Gary Hutchison, president of Hutchison Engineering, said this part of the work will take roughly five years.

The environmental study is slated to take 30 months and the alignment and design study another 25 months for a total of 54 months, but he added that there could be some additional time added into the total.

Along with Hutchison, CH2MHill out of Chicago will be working on the environmental study and another partner in the project is Lin Engineering out of Chatham, Ill.

The official selection was made Sept. 7 by IDOT.

Hutchison that one of the things that could make the work on Route 50 go quicker than normal is that the right of way for the project is already owned by the state.

Phillips said that at the completion of phase I work will then begin on design. She said it will be done in pieces. Those pieces, typically between four and six miles in length would then be ready for construction once funding becomes available.

She said that currently there are not enough funds to design all of the stretch between Lawrenceville and the Wal-Mart DC site, but that some pieces would be drawn up.

Originally Route 50 was slated to become Interstate 64 in the late 1950s. Those plans were later changed and the road was was pulled further south.

As part of that planning the right of way was purchased in preparation for the building of the four lane road.

Hutchison said that his team would be hosting meetings for public input and working with country and municipal officials along the route.

“We are happy to working in the area on this project and we look forward to bringing the area the best planning and design for the project,” Hutchison said.
Phillips also encouraged residents along the road to pay attention to the project and get involved, if they would like to have their input heard.

“We want people to bring us their concerns early so that we don’t run into issues during the 11th hour,” Phillips said.

Hutchison has been working on projects in the state for 65 years and has been involved recently in work on Illinois Route 29 and U.S. Route 65, both of which included projects expanding a two-lane road into four.

http://www.advocatepress.com/topstories/x105402013/IT-S-A-GO-U-S-50-environmental-design-study-bid-awarded
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3467

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2011, 10:48:25 PM »

http://www.olneydailymail.com/features/x319048560/IDOT-gives-lay-of-land-on-U-S-50-expansion

This for Olney to the exsiting 4 lane . I think they are dreaming about the whole thing . Like parts of IL 127 it has large areas of wide paved shoulder and lots of ROW . I would just repaint the lines and declare viictory
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roadgeek

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2019, 10:07:38 PM »

Have there been many updates on this?
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seicer

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2019, 11:02:17 PM »

The Shoal Creek bridge on US Route 50 east of Breese was built years before the rest of the highway (includes the creek crossing and the Frogtown Road overpass)!
https://www.historicaerials.com/location/38.620744210898614/-89.48178050014842/1981/16
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3467

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2019, 10:04:37 AM »

They thought the should build the most expensive part first. We have discussed recent developments or really non developments in southern Illinois notes.
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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2019, 01:32:27 PM »

Have there been many updates on this?

I just got a confirmation today from the US50 Coalition that IDOT terminated the Olney to Lawrenceville US-50 project in 2017.

The coalition is currently trying to get it back on the IDOT project path.
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Phone_Harold

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2019, 03:23:56 PM »

I drove this stretch a few weeks ago.  It was not a bad drive.  There was a lot of semi-truck traffic.

A good part of US 50 from Salem to Lawrenceville has sufficient right-a-way to do four lanes.

Looking at some old maps, part of US 50 was 4 lanes and it is now 2 lanes.  I wonder if the old US 50 alignment carried traffic in one direction and the new alignment in the other?

I do see a need to do some passing lanes to get around some of the trucks.
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3467

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2019, 05:26:03 PM »

I think so. The corridor has had a long and confused history. I can remember maps that showed 4 lane I think around Flora or Xenia?
It makes sense to push for 20 miles of passing lanes that will cost maybe 20 million instead of some unobtainable project.
But keep the 4 lane ROW.
How were the shoulders?
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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2019, 04:40:50 PM »

It varied.

Some stretches were 4-foot shoulder for the eastbound lane, and 10-foot shoulder for the westbound lane.  Most was not.
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3467

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2019, 08:14:40 PM »

A lot of what you are looking at is old 50. A lot of it was rebuilt about the time they were debating the 64 location and that is why there is so much ROW. 250 is part of old 59 Nd there are other parts unmarked.
There are a lot of these in Illinois but this was the biggest.
During the Blago  era there was a year where a four lane around Flora and Olney were in the budget and disappeared. I will try to find those documents.
If they were smart they would pull a Missouri and repave and repaint the lines between Lebanon bypass and Carlyle and declare victory.I

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edwaleni

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2019, 08:34:05 PM »

A lot of what you are looking at is old 50. A lot of it was rebuilt about the time they were debating the 64 location and that is why there is so much ROW. 250 is part of old 59 Nd there are other parts unmarked.
There are a lot of these in Illinois but this was the biggest.
During the Blago  era there was a year where a four lane around Flora and Olney were in the budget and disappeared. I will try to find those documents.
If they were smart they would pull a Missouri and repave and repaint the lines between Lebanon bypass and Carlyle and declare victory.I

As I noted in a prior post on US-50.

There were brief segments that did get the 4 lane treatment and actually opened to traffic but has since been removed.

The US-50/US-45 South intersection east of Flora is still 4 lane today.

The US-50/Main Street is still there.

The US-50/US-45 North was 40% complete when work was stopped. The lanes west of US-45 were poured and the storm viaduct was finished on the east side, but the project never finished. The contracts were cancelled due to budget cuts.

US-50 four lane was poured from Red Maple Road to Xenia Road and actually opened for use as a 4 lane road with the abrupt end at Xenia Road. Sometime later the south set of lanes were taken out of service. I know this because I actually rode on it right after it opened.  My dad used to complain how it went 4 lane for just a couple of miles just to hit a flashing red to turn left where it ended. The "Xenia Halt" stuck around for many years before IDOT finished the ROW acquisition to bring it down to the 1924 ROW.

It is pretty much the way it was when the contracts were cancelled in 1975.

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3467

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2019, 10:43:40 PM »

I think that those were stuck in one of the annual plans in the early part of this century.
Then removed. Will look them up.
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roadgeek

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2020, 01:58:05 PM »

At one time I was kinda excited for this to happen but now I feel it's not necessary. US-50 isn't a bad drive at all really.
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edwaleni

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Re: A Little US-50 History in Southern Illinois -- Interesting Article
« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2020, 11:13:17 PM »

At one time I was kinda excited for this to happen but now I feel it's not necessary. US-50 isn't a bad drive at all really.

Usage is higher between O'Fallon in the west to Carlyle (IL-127)

ADT picks up again between Odin and Salem (I-57) to over 10,000 due to several large trucking firm transfer docks located just west of the I-57 ramps. It tends to distort to measurements.

The "dead zone" is between Flora and Olney. Flora traffic tends to go west to reach I-57, Olney traffic (driven by a Walmart Distro Center) tends to travel east to Vincennes.

Flora got upgraded because it was where US-45 and US-50 were cosigned and the original I-64 route was going to take it north of those towns. When I-64 shifted south, they demoted the co-signed route to a simple bypass.

Richland County Development Corporation (Olney) was working to get a new biz/industrial park east of town where US-50 crosses the CSX Illinois Sub. They wanted US-50 to be 4 lane all the way to the west side of Olney to help them develop it. (because Commercial RE brokers have a 4 lane on their check offs).

CSX refused to pay for a siding and Olney tried to get a federal grant to cover the cost. Then everything fell apart because the brokers couldn't get any tenants to agree unless they got municipal water out to the site. Olney didn't have the money to extend their water main and build a required water tower to the site. (Not without a referendum)  When this happened they stopped taking action on the federal grant for the CSX siding and it fell by the wayside. Today it remains growing corn and soybeans.

Until it becomes economic to frac oil in this area, (and it has lots of difficult to reach oil) US-50 will pretty much stay as it is east of Salem for quite a while. IL-EPA rules are so stringent and cumbersome its just not profitable unless oil hits some ungodly amount. Illinois allows companies to strip mine the heck out of the corn fields and take them out of production, but an oil frac is almost out of the question. Doesn't make sense.
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