New downtown project expected to bring residential living

By Beau Ebenezer

March 8, 2013 Updated Mar 8, 2013 at 10:51 PM CDT

PEORIA Ill -- The landscape of Washington Street stretching through the Warehouse District, will not be the same for much longer.

"Sometimes it seems like a long time coming when you do these projects, even when you get funding from the start," said Peoria Mayor, Jim Ardis. "However, there has been a lot of work done and a lot of pre-engineering. We're ready to go. We are excited."

Friday afternoon, city officials were joined by outgoing Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood for a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of a brand new Downtown Peoria.

"That's the great thing about this community," said LaHood. "We're not standing still. We're not resting on our laurels. We open the museum, we open the caterpillar visitors center, and then we move onto the next important project."

More than $30 million will go into the reconstruction project on Washington Street, reducing six lanes to four and creating on-street parking in the Warehouse District

City officials say their goal is to eventually migrate residents to live in the downtown area permanently.

"It really takes streets that are overbuilt to move cars out of here as quickly as possible," said Peoria City Councilman, Ryan Spain. "It will create opportunities for people to stay downtown, live downtown, and do their shopping downtown."

The City of Peoria was awarded more than $10 million from the Illinois Department of Transportation along with another $10 million from a TIGER II grant.

Mayor Ardis said you can expect to see construction begin right away, and parts of Washington Street are expected to be closed down completely this summer.

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