Morton residents say goodbye to historic tunnels with traditional honking

By Marshanna Hester

July 29, 2013 Updated Jul 30, 2013 at 10:04 AM CDT

MORTON, Ill. -- Standing by, watching and hearing drivers honk their car horns is a big deal for some folks in Morton.

"It's just something you do," said Morton native Gina Bullock. "It was just exciting. It was a neat sound."

"It should go in the dictionary next to small town America," said Steven Schlappi, Morton native.

Since 1961, driving through the two concrete and metal tunnel-shaped structures has been apart of a daily routine but there will only be pictures and video to remember them once they are demolished.

"It was just kind of heartbreaking," said Bullock. "It's a landmark, something you can't replace and it's going to be replaced by a bridge, that's kind of crazy but if that's what it's got to be, that's what it's got to be."

Removing the tunnels is another piece of the $86 million reconstruction project of the Interstate 74 and Interstate 155 interchange.

Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesperson Brian Williamsen said the tunnels have exceeded their life span and are no longer safe.

"In the wintertime we have a lot of problems when it comes to freezing both on Jefferson and the I-74 surface as well," Williamsen said.

Through traffic on Jefferson Street stops on Tuesday and lasts until Fall 2014.

A detour of less than a mile will be provided.

On the final night, tunnel vision was the only way for drivers to say goodbye.

"I like the idea of the tunnels, I enjoy having them," Schlappi said. "I thought it was a neat idea and everything, but tomorrow will just be another day."

A day that will go down in history.