Illinois to Add Truck Parking at Three Rest Areas
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Illinois plans to build a total of more than 100 new truck parking places in two rest areas on Interstate 55 and one on I-24 in a $197.5 million investment in 22 freight mobility projects.
When combined with federal National Highway Freight Program funds, $50.3 million will be spent on the projects to add truck parking at the Fort Massac Rest Area on I-24 and I-55’s Coalfield and Rail Splitter rest areas.
“We are still in the design phase, but our estimated total number of new parking spaces, including all three rest areas, will be between 120 and 140,” Paul Wappel, IDOT spokesman, told Transport Topics. “We anticipate the Rail Splitter Rest Area project will go to letting (open for bids) in the fall of 2023. The Coalfield Rest Area project and Fort Massac Rest Area project are both anticipated to go to letting during the summer-fall of 2024.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the grants in March to help fund 22 port, rail and highway projects in Illinois “to address bottlenecks, increase mobility and improve the supply chain up and down the state.” Among the projects are $40 million for capacity improvements at the Illinois Route 17 interchange with I-57 in Kankakee, $4.3 million for congestion and safety upgrades at the Kaskaskia Regional Port District in Red Bud and $18.8 million for a new Illinois U.S. 50 bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal that links the Chicago River to the Des Plaines River.
Every year, 1.6 billion tons valued at $2.5 trillion of freight flows in and out of the state, making Illinois one of the top three states for freight activity, noted the governor’s office. “Freight drives the Illinois economy in our role as the transportation hub of North America,” state Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said during the funding announcement.
IDOT officials have been seeking ways to meet a high demand for truck parking while eyeing how to update the state’s aging rest areas to meet current needs.
Multiple IDOT studies have been conducted during the past several years revealing 57% of its interstate system has greater demands for truck parking than capacity, the average age of rest areas is 35 years old and there is “excessive spacing” between many rest areas. On average, rest areas are located 52 miles apart, but there are 23 traveling segments where rest areas are more than 70 miles away from each other.
A 2019 IDOT Statewide Rest Area Study revealed that Illinois has 53 rest areas with an average of 25 truck parking stalls, offering such standard services as restrooms, drinking water, traveler information and picnic areas.
Built 50 years ago, the Rail Splitter Rest Area, located five miles north of Springfield, will be the most expensive truck parking project, receiving $2.2 million in federal funds and $17.95 million from the state. The other I-55 rest area (Coalfield) is in Waggoner some 25 miles south of Springfield. Constructed over three decades ago, it was awarded $3 million in federal funds and $15.5 million from Illinois.
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IDOT has named I-55 (and I-57) as having among the highest average volume of trucks parking on shoulder areas due to a lack of available safe parking spaces. In addition, I-55 is ranked among the interstates for excessive spacing between rest areas, meaning truckers must travel longer distances to use rest areas on that freight corridor.
The Fort Massac Rest Area, also over 30 years old, is located 1 mile west of the Kentucky state line on Mile Post 37 on I-24 near U.S. Route 45. It is the lowest-cost truck parking construction project with $2 million in federal funds plus $9.7 million from the state.
According to IDOT, Illinois has a total of 11,262 truck parking places, including 90 public areas with 1,622 available truck parking slots and 206 private truck stops containing 9,640 spaces.
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