Illinois Route 3 Connector Project

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is studying transportation needs between IL Route 3 and IL Route 203 that will improve mobility and connectivity. The project area is within the municipalities of East St. Louis, Madison, and Fairmont City in St. Clair and Madison counties, Illinois. Although the project area is located in Illinois, it is located within the St. Louis metropolitan area and the transportation planning jurisdiction of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the St. Louis region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The project area, shown in the graphic below, encompasses a 1,950-acre area bounded roughly by Industrial Avenue and Eagle Park Road on the north, Ninth Street/Collinsville Road on the south, part of Madison Road on the east, and IL Route 3, known locally as St. Clair Avenue, on the west.

Note: IDOT projects typically have three distinct phases. Phase I (or the Project Study) consists of developing the project scope, environmental studies and preliminary design of a project. Phase II (Design) consists of refining the design to develop contract plans and land acquisition. Phase III (Construction) consists of the actual construction of the project. Only Phase I activities are being conducted at this time.  The project is currently funded through the completion of Phase I. The timing of Phase II and Phase III work is subject to funding availability and project readiness. 

 

Project map

The purpose of this study is to identify options that could improve traffic flow and network connectivity within the study limits by improving accessibility within the study area and between arterial routes, eliminating the reliance on circuitous local roads and short trips on the Interstate System, and improving travel time consistency. Improving connections within the study limits to residential, industrial and business centers and to the greater St. Louis metropolitan area may also enhance economic development opportunities for existing and new businesses, as well as improve safety.  IDOT and its engineering consultant team will inventory existing conditions (such as traffic data and crash history), identify and document environmental constraints, collect and evaluate public input, and develop and refine improvement options (alternatives). The result of the study will be a preferred alternative that addresses identified transportation issues and serves the area’s future needs.

An inclusive, responsive public involvement program is an essential part of the study. The public involvement program is being implemented using the principles of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS), and follows the policies and procedures for CSS as developed by IDOT. CSS is a collaborative approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits into its surroundings and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources while maintaining safety and mobility. More information on IDOT’s CSS process can be found here  and how to provide your input to the IL Route 3 Connector Project study can be found in the Get Involved section of this website.

NEPA Process
This study will be prepared following the requirements of the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. NEPA established a national environmental policy intentionally focused on federal activities and the desire for a sustainable environment balanced with other essential needs of present and future generations.

NEPA requires that any federally funded proposed or future action (such as construction of a roadway) be carefully analyzed for all impacts to natural and cultural resources and to the human environment. This analysis must be documented and made available for public review and comment near the end of the study.

Because transportation projects vary in type, size, complexity, and potential to affect the environment, NEPA encompasses three levels of documentation:

  • Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – for projects where it is known that the action will have a significant effect on the environment.
  • Environmental Assessment (EA) – for actions in which the significance of the environmental impact is not clearly established.
  • Categorical Exclusions (CEs) – for actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the environment.

For the proposed IL Route 3 Connector Project, IDOT is following the requirements for an Environmental Assessment (EA). NEPA also requires that the public be given the opportunity to participate in the study’s development and have input to the decision making process. IDOT’s CSS process and the public involvement program developed for this study will fulfill the NEPA requirement.

If you are interested in learning more about NEPA, please click here  to visit the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) site on NEPA and Project Development.

This study constitutes Phase I (a location and environmental study) of IDOT’s three-phase project development process, as shown on the timeline graphic below.

Project Timeline

The results of the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project study – feedback from the public, analysis of current and projected conditions, and the EA document – will help determine what improvements, if any, are implemented. 

Environmental resources in the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project study area include a number of identified wetlands and floodplains, as well as documented siting of state threatened species. The map below displays several of the resources that must be considered when evaluating alternatives for the project, as well as locations of at-grade railroad crossings which must also be taken into account in order to develop efficient routes.

Environmental Resources 

Meetings and Events

Information on public meetings and other study-related events will be posted here as they are scheduled.

Public Information Meetings

Second Public Information Meeting
The second public meeting for the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project was held October 16, 2014 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center.  The purpose of this meeting was to share with the public the Purpose and Need for the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project and the conceptual alternatives developed to meet those needs. In addition, exhibits provided an overview of study area resources and constraints and the steps going forward in the study process. The project study team also sought public input and concerns about the conceptual alternatives. The meeting was held in an open house format.  IDOT and their consultant team members discussed the conceptual alternatives with meeting attendees and answered questions.  Those in attendance were able to view display boards, maps, and other material that showed the eight conceptual alternatives, land use, and environmental data; and the study process going forward.  Meeting materials are available to download below.
Handouts:

Exhibits:

First Public Information Meeting
The first public meeting for the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project was held April 8, 2014 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Clyde C. Jordan Senior Citizen Center.  The purpose of this meeting was to introduce the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project to the public and allow the public to share their opinions, concerns and ideas. The meeting was held in an open house format.  IDOT and their consultant team members discussed the study with meeting attendees and answered questions.  Those in attendance were able to view display boards, maps, and other material that showed current traffic, crash, land use, and environmental data; explained the public involvement and environmental study processes; and asked for additional volunteers for the study’s Community Advisory Group (CAG).  Meeting materials are available for download below.
Handouts:

Exhibits:

Community Advisory Group

An important part of the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project and the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process is extensive public participation in the study process. CSS is a collaborative approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits into its surroundings and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources while maintaining safety and mobility.  More information on IDOT’s CSS process can be found here.

A major part of our public involvement program is the formation of a Community Advisory Group (CAG).  The purpose of the CAG is to provide input on various elements of the study, including developing a problem statement, identifying issues important to the community and providing feedback on alternatives.

The CAG functions as a liaison between IDOT and the community as a whole, and helps generate interest in and knowledge about the study. This helps ensure opinions, values, and concerns of the community are shared with the study team, and that information developed by the team is distributed to the broader public.

It is important that the CAG be representative of all the varied interests and viewpoints that exist within the study area. The CAG is comprised of volunteers who represent a wide variety of local interests, such as elected leaders, emergency services personnel, schools, residents, businesses, and others with a stake in the study’s outcome.  This group ensures that project solutions balance community, technical and long‐range planning needs. The CAG will provide input at key project milestones throughout the Phase I planning process. Illinois Route 3 Connector CAG members represent:

  • City of Madison
  • City of East St. Louis
  • Village of Brooklyn
  • Village of Fairmont City
  • Metro East Sanitary District
  • East‐West Gateway (MPO)
  • St. Clair County Transit
  • St. Clair County Roads and Bridges
  • East St. Louis Business Development
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • SIU‐Edwardsville – East St. Louis Campus
  • Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House
  • Family Development Center
  • Area Resident
  • Southern Mission Baptist Church
  • Gateway National Golf Course
  • St. Louis Auto Shredding
  • Milam Landfill Waste Management
  • Pilot Travel Center
  • Emerson Park Development Corp.
  • Clark Trucking
  • Tank Trailer Cleaning, Inc.
  • Pratt Properties, LLC
  • Barber Murphy Group
  • Gateway Motorsports Park

Roles of CAG members:

  • Communicate local issues related to the project study area with the study team.
  • Serve as communication link with their communities.
  • Help ensure that community values and environment (context) are considered.
  • CAG members provide input on project deliverable to the Project Study Group (PSG), which is responsible for project decision making.

Responsibilities of CAG members:

  • Attend and actively participate in each CAG meeting.
  • Communicate in an open and honest fashion.
  • Respect the opinion of other CAG members.
  • Endorse roles defined above.
  • Always represent one’s organization and community interest.
  • Suggest alternatives for further study by the PSG that might minimize adverse effects on the environment
  • Consensus will be achieved on decisions; CAG process is not a vote.

Six CAG meetings have been held to date:

CAG Meeting #1 – November 8, 2006
The first Community Advisory Group (CAG) meeting for the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project was held November 8, 2006 at Gateway National Golf Links.  The purpose of the meeting was to:

  • Provide an overview of the project, the environmental study process, and the public involvement /Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) program.
  • Outline the purpose, roles, and responsibilities of CAG members.
  • Ask each CAG member to complete a Context Audit form, which is designed to collect information about the study area so that IDOT gains an understanding of community resources and values.

Sixteen (16) individuals, representing varied interests in the study area (government, transportation, business, and residents) were invited by the Project Study Group (PSG) to participate in the CAG.  Of those invited, 7 were in attendance.

Click here for a full summary of CAG Meeting #1 and the presentation given to meeting attendees.

CAG Meeting #2 & #3 – May 10, 2007
The combined second and third Community Advisory Group (CAG) meeting for the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project was held May 10, 2007 at Gateway National Golf Links Clubhouse.  The purpose of the meeting was to:

  • Provide a summary of the Context Audit and review of Meeting #1.
  • Determine project objectives and critical success factors (exercise to determine local priorities and how to determine project success).
  • Discuss the Stakeholder Involvement Plan.
  • Begin developing Purpose and Need/Problem Statement for the project.
  • Provide a summary of the study area traffic analyses.

Thirteen (13) CAG members were in attendance at the meeting.

Click here for a full summary of CAG Meeting #2 & #3 and the presentation given to meeting attendees.

CAG Meeting #4 – August 29, 2007
The fourth Community Advisory Group (CAG) meeting for the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project was held August 29, 2007 at Gateway National Golf Links Clubhouse.  The purpose of the meeting was to review the initial concept alternatives for the project.

Nine (9) CAG members were in attendance at the meeting.

Click here for a full summary of CAG Meeting #4 and the presentation given to meeting attendees.

CAG Meeting #5 – January 23, 2013
The fifth Community Advisory Group (CAG) meeting for the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project was held January 23, 2013 at Gateway Links Golf Course.  The purpose of the meeting was to reintroduce the project and discuss how the project would progress based on the improvements to transportation in the study area achieved by the Mississippi River Bridge Project.

Seven (7) CAG members were in attendance at the meeting.  

Click here for a full summary of CAG Meeting #5 and the presentation given to meeting attendees.

CAG Meeting #6 – October 3, 2014
The sixth Community Advisory Group (CAG) meeting for the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project was held October 3, 2014 at the Gateway Motorsports Park Conference Center.  The purpose of the meeting was to share eight conceptual alternatives for the project with CAG members and solicit their feedback and ideas on the alternatives through a group exercise.

Nineteen (19) CAG members were in attendance at the meeting.  

Click here for a full summary of CAG Meeting #6 and the presentation given to meeting attendees.

Additional CAG meetings will be held at milestones during the study. Meeting summaries, presentations and other relevant documents for each meeting will be posted on this website following each meeting.

Membership of the CAG may evolve as different issues important to the community become known.  Additional members may be added to help address these issues or previously unidentified stakeholder interests. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is this project?

IDOT is considering transportation improvements by constructing a connector between IL Route 3 and IL Route 203, with a connection to Collinsville Road in St. Clair County to address issues of concern identified by the public and the Community Advisory Group including:

  • Safety concerns resulting from truck traffic using local roads.
  • Lengthy emergency vehicle response times due to excessive delays resulting from at-grade railroad crossings and lack of alternate routes.
  • Improved access to area services such as businesses (jobs), shopping, recreation, and social services.
  • Safety and delay concerns with at-grade railroad crossings on IL Route 3, Exchange Avenue, and Industrial Avenue.
  • Accommodating future development in vacant properties north of IL Route 3 between Industrial Avenue and Collinsville Road.

Why do a study, why not just move straight into design?

  • A National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study is required in order to use federal funding to construct roadway improvements.
  • IDOT wants to ensure that any improvements meet the needs and concerns of those who rely on the road network.

Why is IDOT conducting this project?

  • To address safety concerns resulting from truck traffic using local roads.
  • To improve emergency vehicle response times for locations throughout the study area.
  • To improve access to area services such as businesses (jobs), shopping, recreation, and social services.
  • To address safety and delay concerns with at-grade railroad crossings on Illinois Route 3, Exchange Avenue, and Industrial Avenue.
  • To accommodate future development in vacant properties north of Illinois Route 3, between Industrial Avenue and Collinsville Road.

What is the history of this project?

IDOT is studying transportation needs between Illinois Route 3 and Illinois Route 203 that will improve mobility and connectivity.  The project was included in the East-West Gateway FY 2014-2017 Transportation Improvement Program and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (FY 2012–2015).
2004—IDOT prepared feasibility study to identify potential constraints and evaluate alternatives.
2005—IL Route 3 Connector identified and funded as a High Priority Project by SAFETEA-LU—the previous federal surface transportation bill.
2006— IDOT began Phase 1 Studies (see project timeline next page) to build on work started during the Feasibility Study.
2006—Community Advisory Group (CAG) for the project formed to obtain information about the transportation needs in the study area.
2006-2007—CAG Meetings held to brainstorm key transportation issues and concerns and develop Problem Statement.
2008—IDOT and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) begin construction of the New Mississippi River Bridge. IDOT decided that it would be to the benefit of the study and potential transportation improvements in the project area to see how the new Mississippi River Bridge and I-70 freeway connection affect the movement of traffic within and through the project area. 
2014—New Mississippi River Bridge Project is complete and as a result, the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project Phase I Location Study is reinitiated.
2014—IDOT holds Public Information Meeting (PIM) #1 to share project update and solicit additional CAG members.
2014—IDOT holds CAG meeting to present Conceptual Alternatives.
2014– IDOT holds PIM #2.

What happens at the end of the study?

The Location and Environment Study will conclude upon the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) approval of the preferred alternative and the completion of the Environmental Assessment (EA). If FHWA is agreeable to the alternative(s) chosen and that all environmental issues have been properly identified, all impacts have been quantified and documented, and more funding becomes available, then the project can move forward to the design phase, or Phase II.

When will construction begin?

As funding for construction has not been identified, the timeframe for construction has not been established.

What kind of road will this be?

If a new road is found to be needed, the road is anticipated to be a two-lane roadway.  The actual decision on roadway type will be established later in the study. The road type will be based on traffic volume and functionality. A road’s function is determined by two criteria: 1) whether the road is intended to move vehicles more efficiently; or 2) to provide better access to adjacent land uses. The project stakeholders and the public will have input in determining what type of road would best fit the context of the community at-large.  Ultimately, the Project Study will identify the most efficient facility type.

How many lanes will the road have?

See above.

How will this project affect or improve traffic congestion and safety?

The type and location of an alternative determines the level of improvement to traffic congestion and safety. Presently, the specific improvements are not known.

How much property will IDOT purchase? Will it affect any homes or businesses?

The amount of Right-Of-Way (ROW) that might be needed for transportation improvements has not yet been determined. This will be better understood when alternatives are developed with input from the public and measured against the existing residential and commercial land uses in the study area. However, one goal of the project is to minimize impacts to the residential and commercial land uses where possible.

What will be done to minimize environmental impacts?

As the study team begins to better understand the project needs and to develop project alternatives, they will carefully develop alternatives in consideration of all known environmental resources in the study area. If it is possible to avoid an environmental resource, such as a wetland or a historic property, while also meeting the stated needs and objectives of the project, then the study team will do so. If environmental impacts cannot be avoided, then the study team will attempt to minimize the impact to the environmental resource where possible.

Does the public get a chance to comment on the alternatives being developed or which alternatives are selected for moving forward? If so, how?

The public will be given several opportunities to comment on the alternatives developed by the study team and to provide their opinion the alternative(s) that will be considered for further study. This will be done through various means such as open house public meetings, the project website, and written letters or emails to the IDOT study team. Each comment will be included in a database of public comments and will be reviewed and addressed accordingly.

Why does the study take so long?

  • In order to be eligible for federal funding, IDOT is required to follow the NEPA process. 
  • NEPA is a federal act that requires agencies to select the alternative that meets the project’s purpose and has the least impacts to the natural and human environments.

Is the project funded?

  • $6 million is available for preliminary engineering and pre-construction activities.

What is the cost of the project?

  • Construction cost estimates will be developed after the “Alternatives to be Carried Forward” (Reasonable Alternatives) have been identified.
  • The “Alternatives to be Carried Forward” (Reasonable Alternatives) are those Conceptual Alternatives that meet the project’s Purpose and Need.

What types of improvements are being considered?

  • A full range of alternatives will be considered.  These include new roadway(s), the use of transit, and transportation system management opportunities.  The No-Build (no improvements other than continued routine maintenance) will also be considered.

What is the difference between Conceptual Alternatives and Reasonable Alternatives?

  • The Conceptual Alternatives shown at PIM #2 represent a high-level examination of potential solutions for the Illinois Route 3 Connector. 
  • As this study progresses, the Conceptual Alternatives will be further refined and more detailed analysis of their benefits, costs and potential impacts to the natural (e.g. wetlands, floodplains) and human (e.g. business, residents) environments will be determined.
  • Those Conceptual Alternatives that meet the Purpose and Need will be referred to as the Reasonable Alternatives.

Why isn’t an alternative that follows Eagle Park Road being considered?

  • An alternative that uses Eagle Park Road may have conflicts with the ultimate construction of the Full Build I-70 and/or Relocated IL Route 3.

When will IDOT build this project?

  • Construction funding has not been identified for this project – therefore the construction date is unknown.
  • Completing this study will allow the project to be funded using federal dollars, should they become available.

Will IDOT really build Full Build I-70 and/or Relocated IL Route 3?

  • Yes, both projects are still expected to be constructed.  As neither project is funded for construction, when they will be built is not currently known.

How can I stay involved in the project?

  • Sign up to be on the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project mailing list by clicking here for periodic updates and announcements for future meetings.  Plan to attend the next public meeting and the public hearing that will be conducted as the project moves forward.

Who will make the decision on which alternative is selected?

  • After CAG and public input is considered, IDOT will make the final decision.

How and where will this project tie into IL Route 3 and IL Route 203 and other roads in the study area?

It is not yet known how and where this project will tie into IL Route 255 or any of the other roads in the study area. The project team will study the best location for these connections by evaluating each alternative against a range of criteria including:

  • Ability to address traffic and safety needs
  • Potential to attract new development to the study area
  • Level of environmental, social and economic impact
  • Constructability
  • Cost

Will this project result in changes to how local businesses and neighborhoods are accessed?

It is a possibility. However, if changes in access do occur, the changes will be coordinated with those affected and will be the responsibility of the project team to ensure that access is addressed in each instance.

Will existing roadways such as Exchange Avenue and Collinsville Road be widened?

The widening of existing roadways is something that will be investigated during the study. Many variables including cost, impacts, and system continuity will be used to determine the final solution.

Who can I contact to provide my comments?

There are numerous ways to provide comments on the project:
Phone: 618-346-3161 (Annie Prothro, IDOT)
Email: annie.prothro@illinois.gov
Web: http://www.idot.illinois.gov/projects/IL-3-Connector-Project

Click here to fill out our online comment form.

Additional opportunities to receive project information and provide comments will include newsletters, small group meetings, and future public information meetings.

Will there be other public meetings?

Yes, there will be additional public informational meetings, small group meetings, stakeholder meetings, and a public hearing. IDOT intends to keep the public informed throughout the project and to provide multiple opportunities to provide input. When a draft of the Environmental Assessment is ready for public viewing, a Public Hearing will be held to present the findings of the study and the preferred alternative.

What will happen to my property values?

Property values are affected by a number of market factors. In general, an improved roadway facility can have a positive impact on property, however, it is impossible at this phase of the project for anyone to predict the impact to a specific property.

What will happen to my property taxes?

Property taxes are assessed by the County Assessor’s office. IDOT does not control or have any influence on property taxes.

When will IDOT begin acquiring right of way?

As funding for construction has not been identified, the actual timing of right of way acquisition is not known at this time.

Will IDOT be using Eminent Domain to take property?

It is probable that right of way could be required for this project. If right of way is required, IDOT will appraise the required parcels and try to negotiate a settlement with property owners. If an agreement cannot be reached with property owners, IDOT has the authority to use eminent domain for public projects. Eminent domain is a process which allows IDOT to acquire the needed property for the improvement and the court system ensures that property owners receive fair compensation for their property.

What’s Next?

Currently, the project is in the development stage (see schedule). Although $6 million has been made available for preliminary engineering and pre-construction activities (Phase I and part of Phase II), construction (Phase III) is not funded in IDOT’s Multi-Modal, Multi-Year Program (MYP). Until design is refined further, final construction costs will not be determined. Detailed environmental and preliminary engineering analyses are being evaluated and reviewed. Conceptual Alternatives have been developed and will be evaluated for their ability to meet the project’s Purpose and Need, as well as traffic considerations, community and environmental impacts, and agency concerns and public input. Public input will be a factor in deciding which design concept is preferred.

IDOT values your comments and questions. We provide responses to all questions and try to do so in a timely manner.

All contact information is kept private, is for the sole use of the Illinois Route 3 Connector Project, and will not be distributed to any entity outside of IDOT.

Please click here to fill out our online comment form, or if you prefer, you may contact us by U.S. mail, phone, or fax:

Annie Prothro, P.E.
Project Manager
Illinois Department of Transportation
Region 5/District 8
1102 Eastport Plaza Drive
Collinsville, IL 62234
Phone: 618-346-3161
Fax: 618-346-3202
annie.prothro@illinois.gov

IDOT is currently at the early stages of Phase I for this project. As we make changes, this website will be updated accordingly.

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