Congratulations to Kane County, Illinois, for completing their largest infrastructure project ever--the Stearns Road Bridge Corridor--and for finishing it on time and under budget!
Credit for completing the bridge goes, of course, to the project's many workers. They worked in the January cold to make up for delays, and finished the project with no loss-time accidents. Not one. And we're talking about more than 250,000 hours of work.
As Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, who represented DOT at yesterday's ribbon-cutting, said:
“About 220 people worked on site every day, creating hundreds more paychecks that were spent throughout the community. We’re seeing that type of job creation all across the country today thanks to our federal-aid highway program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. And more than $78 million from those two sources helped make this corridor a reality."
But now that it's open, the benefits of the new corridor are just beginning.
The new crossing also represents a huge step forward in safety, reliability, and efficiency. The driving force behind this 20-year-old project, former Speaker of the U.S. House Dennis Hastert, recognized back in 1990 that, "We probably had 20 bridges over the Fox, and all but three of those had been up 80 years or more. Imagine how things had changed in 80 years."
Those same bridges simply were not designed to handle the vehicle traffic created by all the new houses, businesses and factories that have gone up around Elgin and St. Charles in the past century. That is why the Obama Administration is working so hard to rebuild the American economy by rebuilding America.
And the Stearns Road Corridor was built not just to avoid harming the environment, but to reinvigorate it. The project created 216 new acres of open space, including new retention areas and wetlands that can hold as much stormwater as 20 Olympic-size swimming pools. Also, no soil was trucked out of the site or brought in from elsewhere. Soil dug to create the new retention areas was used to build up the road base in other areas.
The new crossing also features a bike-pedestrian path separated from motor vehicle traffic.
Better commuting times, economic growth, construction jobs, and environmental enhancements--that's quite a load for one bridge to carry! But I suspect the new Stearns Road Corridor is more than up to the challenge.