MARION (WSIL) — Crews are putting the finishing touches on an expansion of the Pepsi MidAmerica plant.
Pepsi officials say they’ve been working on easing traffic near the plant on old Route 13 in Marion for more than two decades. The new extension of Halfway Road will connect old Route 13 to Westminster Drive.
John Rains, chief operating officer for Pepsi MidAmerica, said it should relieve traffic near the area.
"I don’t know if you’ve ever driven on Carbon Street between Old 13 and the school system, but it is back-to-back traffic, so that will be eliminated," explained Rains.
He said Pepsi has expanded some parts of the plant, creating 50 new jobs recently. The company plans to invest another $2 million into new production lines this summer.
"It’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a while, but we just needed the opportunity to expand," Rains said.
Pepsi first started talking about the connecting road in 1998, but there were a number of conflicts with nearby property owners, including the Marion school district. Recently-elected Marion Mayor Mike Absher was part of those land discussions when he was on the school board.
"Success is not a straight line," Absher said. "Sometimes there has to be a little jog here and there to get around things and to accomplish things."
Governor J.B. Pritzker said the expansion shows southern Illinois is open for business.
"This is a great place to be, and we’re a government that’s going to work with businesses and work with entrepreneurs to grow jobs right here," Pritzker said.
Pritzker said he’s going to work hard towards marketing southern Illinois and what the region has to offer.