Indiana Tries to Keep Illiana Toll Road Alive
By Susan DeMar Lafferty
While Illinois’ position on the proposed Illiana toll road does not appear to have changed, the Indiana Department of Transportation will fund a new environmental impact study to keep the controversial project alive.
According to a court brief filed this week, INDOT has agreed to “fund the technical work needed” to comply with a court order.
The $1.3 billion, 47-mile highway was intended to connect Interstate 55 near Wilmington with Interstate 65 near Lowell, Ind., as a truckers’ alternative to Interstate 80. The Environmental Law & Policy Center, Openlands, the Midewin Heritage Association and the Sierra Club challenged the government’s approval of the Illiana in federal and state courts last year.
The Illiana was shelved indefinitely by Gov. Bruce Rauner in January 2015 due to the state’s budget crisis.
Many thought the project was dead when a federal judge ruled in June that the Federal Highway Administration’s Record of Decision approving the project was “arbitrary and capricious,” invalid and in violation of U.S. environmental law.