The Illinois Department of Transportation (Department) is studying a 16-mile section of I-80 from Ridge Road to US Route 30 that spans three counties (Kendall,Grundy, and Will) and six municipalities, including the City of Joliet. The purpose of the I-80 Project is to provide a safe and efficient transportation system for both local and regional travel by improving access, reducing existing and future congestion, improving safety, and bringing I-80 up to current design standards. Improvements proposed include reconstructing the existing pavement, adding auxiliary lanes, widening shoulders, improving interchanges, and repairing, widening, and replacing bridges along the corridor.
As part of the project, the Department proposes to replace the existing twin truss bridges on I-80 over the Des Plaines River located in the City of Joliet. These new, wider bridges would be located approximately 300 feet north of the existing bridges.
Federal agencies are required to identify and consider the potential for disproportionately high and adverse impacts on low-income and minority populations that could result from all programs, policies, and activities (Executive Order 12898). A disproportionate impact is one that would negatively affect low-income and minority populations (EJ populations) to a greater extent than non-EJ populations.
Based on information from the Department’s Environmental Assessment (EA) completed in October 2019, the demographic makeup of communities in the area of the proposed Des Plaines River Bridge replacement contains a concentration of minority and low-income populations that could experience disproportionately high or adverse effects as a result of the I-80 project without mitigation.
In accordance with Executive Order 12898, the Department has conducted additional focused community outreach efforts to examine the impacts of the proposed Des Plaines River Bridge replacement to the surrounding community. Input has been sought from communities that could be directly or indirectly impacted from the Des Plaines River Bridge replacement and environmental justice residents who may experience a disproportionally high and adverse effect as a result of this improvement.
Area of Impact
Purpose of Community Impact Assessment
The purpose of this Community Impact Assessment (CIA) is to provide opportunities for full and fair participation by potentially affected environmental justice communities that surround the proposed Des Plaines River Bridge replacement in the:
- Further examination and identification of the scope and extent of community impacts,
- Identification of potential solutions to address adverse community impacts identified, and
- Development of minimization and/or mitigation measures to address adverse impacts.
Findings from the CIA report and coinciding outreach efforts serve to determine whether minimization and mitigation measures developed to address community impacts identified are effective in determining that the project would not have a disproportionately high and adverse effect to this environmental justice community. Results of the CIA will inform further transportation decision-making for this project.
The EA further details potential impacts assessed for the entire I-80 project corridor and outreach and specialized outreach conducted as part of the entire I-80 project. The I-80 project corridor, outside of the area identified for the CIA, follows the existing I-80 alignment, and has no substantial impacts. The CIA focuses on the environmental justice area determined to have the potential for disproportionately high or adverse effects without further mitigation.
After approximately two years of focused outreach and technical analysis, the Department has published the draft CIA. Community partner meetings have been held throughout the development of the CIA and are being held to obtain additional input on recommended measures to minimize and mitigate disproportionate and high adverse impacts to the Des Plaines River Bridge community.
*PLEASE NOTE: The comment period for obtaining input from the public on the Community Impact Assessment has been extended to May 14, 2022.
Download a copy of the draft Community Impact Assessment
- Appendix A: Community History Documents
- Appendix B: Community Outreach Plan
- Appendix C: Questionnaire Summary Report
- Appendix D: Mitigation Measures
Project Impacts and Community Concerns Raised
Based on community partner input and survey responses from 287 members in the community, the following major community impacts and concerns were identified. These impacts were reviewed with community partners and a mailing was sent out in January 2021 to all within the affected community to reach consensus on the issues to be addressed through the Community Impact Assessment process.
What Will the Community Look Like When Construction is Complete?
Will there be changes in noise levels from the new bridge?
As part of the Phase I Study of I-80, the Department performed a noise study in accordance with State and federal regulations and guidance. The study found that increases in noise levels would occur. Several locations were identified where noise walls would help reduce the noise. More information on potential noise wall locations may be found on the project website (https://i-80will.com/images/Presentations/Noisewalls.pdf). Tenants and property owners who would benefit from the potential noise walls will have the opportunity to vote on whether they would like them to be installed. Community input as part of this outreach effort on concerns about noise impacts in the community will help the Department further understand considerations needed to mitigate temporary construction and permanent noise impacts.
How will the existing bridge structure be removed and not damage my property?
The Department will make every effort to complete construction in a manner that limits property damage. Should you feel your property sustained damage due to construction, you can file a claim with the State of Illinois for damages. To file a claim, contact your IDOT District 1 office. For information on how to obtain contact information, please go to the following website: http://www.idot.illinois.gov/travel-information/report-a-problem/claims/index
Any claim will need to show proof of previous (before construction) and current (during or after construction) conditions of your property.
What about vibration impacts during construction?
In accordance with the Department’s Highway Traffic Noise Assessment Manual, vibration during construction activities will be monitored closely, including impacts from pile driving, blasting and pavement breaking. If necessary, the Department will implement measures to reduce construction vibration, such as changing the location of construction activities and hours of vibration operations or using alternative construction methods.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Environmental Justice?
Environmental Justice (EJ) at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) means identifying and addressing disproportionately high and adverse effects of the agency’s programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations to achieve an equitable distribution of benefits and burdens.
What is mitigation?
Mitigation is avoiding or minimizing impacts by reducing the degree or magnitude of the implemented action; mitigating or eliminating the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the impacted environment or community resource; reducing or eliminating the impact over time by long-term preservation and maintenance operations; and compensating for the impact incurred.
What is the timeline for improvements to the Des Plaines River Bridge?
The I-80 project is funded by the Rebuild Illinois Capital Improvement Program. While project timelines may be adjusted over time, completion of this environmental stage and the CIA is a key milestone in project development. Upon completion of this environmental phase in 2022, final design and coordination on land and property acquisition can begin. Completion of the project is currently anticipated in 2029. Tentative timeline and duration of activities for the Des Plaines River Bridge replacement are shown below.
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