A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday marked the official opening of two lanes of the Macomb Bypass.
The event was attended by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, Illinois Transportation Secretary, Randall Blankenhorn, Macomb Mayor Michael Inman, Thomas A. Oakley and others.
"This shows the wonderful results when people work together to get things done," Rauner said. "This has been more than 60 years in the making. This is the last key link between Chicago and Kansas CIty."
The bypass will connect Highway 336, just west of Macomb, to Highway 67.
The bypass will allow through traffic on the Chicago Kansas City Expressway to travel from downtown Chicago on I-290 to downtown Kansas City on I-35, and avoid going through downtown Macomb.
The city hopes this bypass will also make getting through town easier by eliminating some of the bigger truck traffic going through town.
On the northbound side of the bypass was opened today the southbound side has yet to be completed. However, Rouner promised on Friday all four lanes would be completed and said, "We want the best highway system in the world here in Illinois."
Macomb Mayor Michael Inman also echoed Rouner statements saying "that absolutely has to happen, we benefit the most when this is fully completed."
Both Rouner and Inman praised the efforts of Thomas A Oakley.
Oakley has been a transportation advocate and a key driver behind this project. Beginning in 1958, he was a leader in improving transportation and infrastructure in the Midwest. He has worked with 10 Illinois governors, 13 secretaries of transportation, and numerous other state and federal officials in Illinois, Missouri and Iowa on regional transportation projects.
The results include completion of the Chicago to Kansas City Expressway from downtown Chicago to downtown Kansas City via a new corridor, the Central Illinois Expressway (I-72) from Springfield to the Mississippi River and the Avenue of the Saints from St. Louis to St. Paul, Minn.
Those three national corridors serve the region and connect it to highway systems in the rest of the Midwest and to the continental United States.
Oakley, says completing this last stretch of the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway will support business and employment opportunities throughout West Central Illinois.
To date, 101 million dollars have been invested in the bypass and it’s estimated it will take another 30 million to complete it.