Roads. We travel them every day. They take our children to school. Fire, ambulance and police rely on them. They’re essential for commerce and economic development. We shouldn’t notice them, but locally, we do notice them. The potholes. The rough edges. The worn-off lines.
Peoria County wants to fix that. The Highway Department has been addressing the needs of our county-owned road network while balancing the constraints of the budget. But simply put, at the current funding levels, we can’t get ahead of the curve. Our present need is approximately $200 million. Between state and local funding, the Highway Department has about $3 million annually to spend on road projects.
We’re coming to the public, in the form of a referendum on the November ballot, for additional help. Peoria County wants to find a more reliable, local source of funds to fix our local situation. We could lament the problems with relying on the State of Illinois for funds, or the limited funding available at the federal level, but you’ve heard it all before.
We’re asking the voters to have their say on a half-percent retail sales tax increase, with any money raised to go purely for road projects. The tax would not apply to prescription drugs, groceries or titled goods, and it would end after 12 years. In fact, there is no extending it without asking the voters to do so.
The Peoria County Board has approved a plan of action should the referendum pass to take a large bite out of that $191-million road network need. A mix of urban roads inside the City of Peoria and rural roads in unincorporated areas are on the list. They include:
- Lake Street (Sheridan to Knoxville): reconstruction roadway
- Cameron Lane (IL 116 to US 24): structural overlay and paved shoulders
- Gale Avenue (Forrest Hill to Sterling): reconstruction roadway
- Radnor Road (Willow Knolls to Alta Lane): reconstruction roadway
- Koerner Road (Charter Oak to US 150): structural overlay and paved shoulders
- Maxwell Road/Middle Road (Fauber to Middle Rd to Dirksen Pkwy): reconstruct roadway
- Sheridan Road (Northmoor to Glen): reconstruct roadway
- Willow Knolls Road (University St to Allen Road): reconstruct roadway
- Old Galena Road (IL 29 to Boy Scout Road): reconstruct roadway
- Trigger Road (US 150 to Grange Hall Road): structural overlay and paved shoulders
- Grange Hall Road (Princeville Jubilee to IL 91): structural overlay and paved shoulders
- Swords Hill (Farmington Road to Rohmann Ave): reconstruct road and rehabilitate bridge
- Taylor Road (IL 116 to IL Route 8): structural overlay and paved shoulders
- Truitt Road (Route 40 to Chillicothe City Limits): structural overlay and paved shoulders
- Akron Road (Princeville Jubilee to IL 40): structural overlay and paved shoulders
- Park Road (Farmington Road to Nebraska): mill and overlay
- Sterling Ave (MLK Drive to Manor Parkway): reconstruct roadway.
Specifically, the Peoria County Board would initially issue a five-year bond to quickly start up projects. Then in the sixth year, another five-year bond would be issued to address another group of projects. Finally, in years 11 and 12, roads that have been designated “pay-as-you-go” would be completed as funding is available.
Will this plan take care of the entire need? No. But, it will address the most pressing roads and bring our road network up to a more acceptable standard.
Recent Projects and Funding Sources
The Highway Department is funded by property taxes and motor fuel taxes. This amounts to approximately $3 million annually and is used for road materials such as asphalt patch, shoulder aggregate, signs and road salt. Funds left over after these maintenance supplies have been purchased are accumulated for road rehabilitation projects and reconstruction projects. Recent projects include the mill and overlay of Willow Knolls Road ($1 million) and the county’s portion of the current intersection reconstruction of Willow Knolls and Allen Road ($1.5 million).
The discussion of budgets and taxes is never glamorous, but your Peoria County Board believes it deserving of serious discussion and action. Please visit FixTheCountyRoads.com to find more details on our county highway network, what is on the ballot, and the significance of upgrading our county highways inside the City of Peoria.
And remember, there are many important issues on the ballot, so please take time to head to the polls on November 6th. iBi