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Illinois 92 1

Peter Ruklic, of Rock Island, center left, points to an area of the Rock Island Illinois 92 corridor as he asks questions and discusses ideas with Justin Opitz, center right, of Gewalt Hamilton Associates. 

It was both encouraging and instructive to see so many caring citizens share their ideas last week about a long-overdue comprehensive upgrade of the Illinois 92 Corridor through the Quad-Cities.

The two-dozen-plus people who took the time to attend and comment at Thursday’s workshop underscored the high community interest in the major east-west transportation corridor that stretches from the Centennial Bridge and Rock Island Milan Parkway in Rock Island to the Illinois 5 interchange in Silvis.

The session also signals welcome progress in the most promising effort to date to make the corridor more usable and attractive to businesses, visitors and residents of the cities of Moline, East Moline, Rock Island and Silvis.

Those cities joined with MetroLINK in contributing to the local match needed to secure the $240,000 grant Bi-State Regional Commission won for the project. Kudos and thanks to Bi-State for spearheading this essential planning effort.

As the agency said in its Nov. 1, 2018, request for qualifications (RFQ) for a lead agency to study the corridor and create a plan, individual cities along Illinois 92 and the Illinois Department of Transportation have studied parts of the corridor.

Now, however, “There is a need to examine the full extent of the corridor to determine a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to improvements," the RFQ said. Among the things that are expected to be included in future planning for the multi-use corridor are traffic flow, safety, existing and future transit, such as, bus and passenger rail, and pedestrian and bicycle accommodation.

A comprehensive plan like the one envisioned here has been talked about for years, and would have been welcome at any time. But with construction of the Interstate 74 Bridge and the changing traffic patterns and opportunities it has created, this planning process comes at a particularly opportune time.

As Lesley Roth, associate principal and director of urban planning for  RATIO Architects, said Thursday, “There have been issues with the corridor, but now, especially with the new bridge being built, it’s a great time for these cities to come together under the umbrella of the Bi-State Regional Commission to take on a project of this scale and magnitude.”

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It’s a big job complicated by the fact that so many cities and such a wide range of players are served by a corridor that boasts residences, industries, small businesses and educational institutions, including Augustana College. Those disparate interests require a common artery that serves them all equally well.

Additionally, as Roth put it, “There needs to be a cohesive vision that is consistent with the region’s idea of making this whole Quad-Cities multi-modal contact sensitive environment.”

These days, she said, “There are some really cool things happening along the Illinois 92 corridor but you never see it because you’re going too fast and trying not to hit someone; you’re like on your way to work, rushing to get somewhere.”

The corridor's various uses and those exciting new things also highlight one of the strengths of the Illinois Quad-Cities: individuality. “We want to reinforce what’s great about each one of the communities,” Roth said.

We believe that's the best approach to enhancing them all.

There is a long way to go before a plan can be crafted and the next public open house can be held this fall.

Bryan Schmid, Bi-State’s senior planner, said Monday, “Following last week's workshop, the consultant team will record the input collected and create a list of alternatives for the future. The goal of this second public meeting will be to home in on a preferred design direction.”

We thank those steering the study and those who are sharing their ideas for making the corridor work better for all as we look forward to seeing a transformative plan take shape.

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