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Coalition seeks funding for Four County Highway

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MURPHYSBORO (WSIL) -- City officials, legislators and local residents held a Four County Highway Coalition meeting Friday.

The meeting focused on a completed report of a four-lane highway expansion, called the Southwest Illinois Connector Highway, which would connect Murphysboro to Waterloo.

The two main reasons given for the rural expressway are reducing accidents and promoting economic development.

"When we look at the purpose for this, I think it's very clear in the report. The report makes it clear. It talks about the safety issues along with this road," said chairman Marc Kiehna.

Since 2012, there have been 1617 crashes between Murphysboro and Waterloo, including school bus, farm equipment and head-on collisions.

"I can tell you that far too many injuries and fatalities have happened in regards to this," said Kiehna.

But there's also excitement about the potential for thriving businesses.

"We are close to really neat recreational opportunities: the world shooting complex and pyramid state park," said Kiehna.

Now the next step: funding.
Representative Terri Bryant says that takes a collective effort.

"Moving forward the task is going to be making sure that we get the director of the department of transportation for Illinois involved. We're going to need down the road a little bit--we're going to need some grant money," said Bryant.

Bryant says she's confident this project will actually happen.

"I'm hoping that I'm at the end of 40 years of work and that my career will actually get this really off the ground and hopefully able to complete it," she said.

The board's priority is to also work with Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) officials to help secure those grants.

You can read the entire report here.

Maya Skinner

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