Route 51 hearing vital to our future

One doesnt have to stand along Interstate 70 very long to realize just how much east-west traffic travels through Vandalia on that four-lane highway. Hopefully, the same will be true for north-south traffic in the not-too-distant future.

The Illinois Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing here next Thursday as it progresses with its four-lane expansion of U.S. Route 51. We hope that the hearing draws a good crowd of local residents.

At the hearing, which will be held from 1-4 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at the new Kaskaskia College Vandalia Campus, IDOT officials will explain the agencys plans to continue with the Route 51 project. They also will receive input from local residents.

If you travel Route 51 either in a northerly or southerly direction, you know first-hand how much the four-lane expansion has improved traffic flow on one of this areas most heavily used state highways. Not only that, the four-lane expansion has encouraged development along the route.

As the state continues to plan the expansion south of Pana and through Vandalia, IDOT needs to determine which route the four-lane highway will follow once it gets here. Thats where input from local officials and residents can play a role.

Do you think that it would be best for Route 51 to continue going through Vandalia, despite some concerns about the effect of the roadway on nearby buildings? Or should it loop around the community to the west, possibly connecting with a third Vandalia I-70 interchange?

Nows the time to gather your thoughts on the issue and to express them to IDOT officials.

As Vandalia Mayor Rick Gottman has been saying in recent weeks, its important that we have a strong turnout for the hearing next Thursday. Otherwise, how will IDOT officials know just how important the four-lane expansion of Route 51 through this area is to Vandalia?


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