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The Illinois Route 31 project is currently in Phase I of the project development process. Activities during the phase generally include the following:

  • Identifying transportation issues such as traffic congestion and crash-prone locations;
  • Encouraging public involvement; and
  • Developing solutions by considering the benefits and impacts of many alternatives.

Through a combination of data collection and stakeholder input, the Community Advisory Group (CAG) for the project has identified 4 key transportation issues / concerns for the project corridor:

  • Congestion
  • Safety
  • Accessibility
  • Existing design deficiencies

Based on these key issues / concerns, the following Project Problem Statement was developed:

“The transportation problems along Illinois Route 31, from Illinois Route 176 to Illinois Route 120, to be solved by this project are: congestion (existing and future), safety for multi-modal users, accessibility for all users, and existing design deficiencies; in addition, minimize overall environmental impacts (e.g. storm water runoff and water quality).”

Using the identified key issues and problem statement; the project team developed the following Purpose statementt:

“The purpose of the proposed project is to improve safety, address roadway capacity and mobility, correct existing geometric deficiencies and encourage multi-modal transportation along IL Route 31 from the intersection of IL Route 176 to the intersection of IL Route 120, in eastern McHenry County.”

The following project needs have been identified:

  • Improve Roadway Safety
  • Expand Roadway Capacity and Address Traffic Issues
  • Correct Existing Roadway Design Deficiencies
  • Improve Opportunities for Multimodal Connectivity

The Purpose and Need is federally required and is the basis for evaluating alternatives and environmental impacts in the Environmental Assessment. It establishes why a project should take place and explains to the public and decision-makers that the expenditure of funds is necessary and worthwhile. In addition, although some environmental impacts are expected to result from the project, the Purpose and Need section should justify why impacts are acceptable based on the project's importance. As importantly, the project Purpose and Need drives the process for alternatives consideration, in-depth analyses, and ultimate selection. Without a well-defined, well-established, and well-justified Purpose and Need, it will be difficult to determine which alternatives are reasonable, prudent, and practical.

The Purpose and Need section, and supporting document, must be submitted to the FHWA for review and comment, as well as presented to the review committee for NEPA concurrence. This project has completed both activities and has received both FHWA approval and NEPA concurrence on the Purpose and Need.

The IL Route 31 study is presently in the alternatives development phase.  Using the Project Problem Statement, existing conditions, corridor deficiencies, technical analysis and the Purpose and Need, the Project Study Group (PSG) and Community Advisory Group (CAG) identify possible improvements and alternatives.  The PSG and CAG then evaluate all potential improvements and alternatives with evaluation criteria based on the project purpose and need, while quantifying the impacts generated. This evaluation process begins with the identification of a full range of possible solutions, and ends with the selection of alternatives to be carried forward for further evaluation.  Probable solutions are evaluated in greater detail by looking at preliminary alternatives in plan view to better compare impacts, costs, safety and operational characteristics. Through this screening process, a narrower list of “Alternatives to be Carried Forward” or “Alternatives to be Further Analyzed” are identified.

This process of evaluating and selecting possible solutions or alternatives follow the federally mandated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Under the provisions of the NEPA, “reasonable alternatives,” including a “no action” alternative, are objectively examined during the process, and impacts to the surrounding community and environment are also evaluated. Public involvement and context sensitivity continue to be applied throughout this part of the study.  Detailed information regarding the public involvement process and context sensitive solutions, can be found in the Public Involvement / CSS section of this website.