An open house public meeting took place last Wednesday in the Dupo High School cafeteria about the proposed design of a new I-255 interchange at Imbs Station Road, located about 2,300 feet north of the Davis Street Ferry overpass just outside of Columbia.
The meeting drew 100 attendees throughout the evening, as design team personnel made themselves available to answer any questions and gather input.
The village of Dupo, in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, is planning the new interchange, which would replace the current Exit 9 in Dupo.
Old State Route 3 and Bluffview Drive would be relocated to accommodate the construction of this new exit, according to information provided at the meeting.
The Imbs Station Road interchange would require approximately 31 acres of right of way as well as 18 residential relocations.
Many of those affected by the proposed relocation were on hand at the public meeting, said Kimberly Restoff of Burns & McDonnell, who was on hand to answer questions. She categorized the overall response of those attending the meeting as “pretty even keel.”
The current estimated cost to construct this new interchange is $25.3 million — $17.5 million of which was already awarded several years ago as part of a federal transportation bill. Total estimated cost of the interchange, including right-of-way acquisitions, utility relocations and design, is $36.3 million.
Right-of-way purchases could begin in mid-2017, with possible construction starting in 2018.
Last week’s meeting marked the end of the phase I planning stage, Restoff said. After incorporating public comment from the meeting, the project will move into phase II, which is the finalization of design plans.
Comments on this new interchange will be accepted until Oct. 27 in writing to Burns & McDonnell, Attn: Kimberly Restoff, 1075 Eastgate Drive, Suite 1, O’Fallon, IL, 62269.
As for funding to come up with the remaining amount required to build this new interchange, Restoff said it is her understanding that “this is still being worked out.”
Restoff added that the uncertainty regarding river levee system improvements and an economic downturn led to this interchange project being shelved several years ago.
“There were mixed responses (at the public hearing),” said Columbia City Engineer Chris Smith, who attended the public meeting.
“Their engineers were questioned while I was standing there about when this would start.
One commented that Dupo needed to come up with certain agreements to initiate the engineering. The other said he could start the design as soon as April, he thought,” Smith said during Monday’s Columbia city council meeting.
“So, it appears to be moving forward?” Columbia alderman Mark Roessler asked.
“Yes,” Smith replied.
Dupo and Columbia have been talking over recent months about ways to partner in the development of the area near this proposed new interchange.
Dupo Mayor Ron Dell did not respond to several attempts for comment regarding this project.
(Andrea Saathoff provided additional reporting for this article.)