IDOT breaks ground on $94M project to modernize south suburban roadway

The roadway on Wood Street/Ashland Avenue that stretches 3 miles between 138th and 161st streets has largely remained untouched for nearly a century — only receiving occasional resurfacing.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces the Illinois Department of Transportation will be modernizing Wood Street/Ashland Avenue which stretches more than three miles from 161st and 138th streets.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the Illinois Department of Transportation will be modernizing the more than 3-mile stretch of Wood Street/Ashland Avenue between 138th and 161st streets.

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A nearly 100-year-old road that runs through Harvey, Dixmoor and Riverdale will be completely modernized for the first time in its history thanks to a $94 million investment from the state, officials announced Thursday.

“Illinois infrastructure is really just a word for opportunity,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference in Harvey. “By investing in it, we open doors for our residents, and virtually everyone who calls this state home can see and feel the results in real time.”

The roadway on Wood Street/Ashland Avenue that stretches 3 miles from 138th Street to 161st Street has largely remained untouched for nearly a century — only receiving the occasional resurfacing. The road is uneven, riddled with potholes and is often flooded when it rains excessively.

The Illinois Department of Transportation will rebuild the four-lane road, including new curbs, gutters and lighting. The project also will modernize traffic signals and turn lanes and feature smoother and safer railroad crossing.

The project will take about two full construction seasons with an expected finish date in the summer of 2025.

“This isn’t just an investment in our infrastructure; it’s an investment in our communities,” Pritzker said. “The south suburbs are on the move, and I am really happy to say I couldn’t be more excited about it. I hope you all are seeing the difference that is certainly happening before our very eyes.”

Bike and pedestrian accommodations will be added throughout the corridor, and the bridge over the Little Calumet River will be rehabilitated. One of the most important features of this modernization project is a new storm sewer system that will be added to address longtime drainage and flooding issues.

State Rep. William Davis, D-East Hazel Crest, said the road project is a huge win for the south suburbs, especially residents who had to “endure a very bad road for a very long time.”

“When it rains, it floods — there is no question about that — because there is no sewer infrastructure along that street,” said Davis, whose district includes Harvey. “But now you have the opportunity for that — for curbs, for sidewalks, a lot of things that don’t exist there.”

Davis said the road’s condition, congestion and outdated signals combined to stifle economic growth.

The project will employ some graduates of the Highway Construction Careers Training Program, an IDOT partnership with South Suburban College in South Holland and Kennedy King College in Chicago.

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