Second section of Veteran's Drive complete, more construction to come

By Beau Ebenezer

September 13, 2013 Updated Sep 13, 2013 at 8:06 PM CDT

PEKIN Ill -- It was a triumphant day for community leaders in Tazewell County as they joined a ribbon cutting ceremony for the second major completion of Veteran's Drive in Pekin.

Once fully complete, this road will run from the Southwest end of Route 29 to Interstate-474 in the North.

"Veteran's Drive is a project for us that goes back into the early 90s," said Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Bill Fleming. "We formed a Transportation Committee and the express purpose was to create this road along the East-side of town that will help us better move commerce and better conduct business."

Nearly one mile of the project was completed Friday.

It runs from Broadway to Sheridan Road.

City officials said this portion cost $4.8 million.

$4 million of that was funded by the last federal transportation bill from then-Senator Barack Obama, and then-Congressman Ray LaHood.

The rest was paid by the Pekin tax-payers.

"We enacted a local gas tax of four cents so a portion of that goes to the funding," said Pekin Mayor, Laurie Barra. "We have local match that goes along with federal funding if we can find it. That is important to us."

The remaining unfunded section of Veteran's Drive is from Sheridan Road, north, to the I-474 interchange.

That portion of the project is estimated to cost more than $30 million.

In order to complete the entire project, it will take another federal transportation bill from congress.

"The issue is that the motor fuel tax continues to drop, and as a result we have less and less money each year to spend on building roads and bridges," said U.S. Congressman, Aaron Schock. "We have to find an alternative funding stream."

The next section of Veteran's Drive construction is expected to begin this fall and be completed by 2015.

It will extend the road on the South-side of Pekin from Court Street to Route 29.

A final completion date will be determined once all funding is secured.

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