Route 66 News

What’s next for closed Route 66 in McCook?

Berkeley (Ill.) Suburban Life published a follow-up story about the $40 million settlement between the Illinois Department of Transportation and Vulcan Materials over the closing of a one-mile stretch of Joliet Road (aka Route 66) in McCook.

The state alleged that Vulcan, which operated two nearby quarry pits, dangerously destabilized the road by undermining it. They settled last week, without Vulcan admitting wrongdoing, on the eve of a long-awaited civil trial.

What will happen to the $40 million remains uncertain. IDOT said the money would be used for area road improvements, but the agency didn’t offer specifics. McCook and the nearby communities of Countryside and Hodgkins, which were also impacted by the road’s closure in 1998, are the most likely to receive portions of the settlement money.

The road remains closed to this day, and its prospects of reopening are slim.

Countryside Mayor Robert Conrad chimed in with this idea:

“I would hate to see a one-mile stretch of Historic Route 66 disappear,” Conrad said. “Make it an observation area, a walking or bike path.  I think we deserve that if nothing else. There’s not much of the old road left.”

That’s an intriguing idea. Other proposals are to rebuild the road or build a bridge to replace it, but both ideas likely would cost well in excess of that $40 million. It seems much more possible to shore up the road as a pedestrian path with a few million dollars, like Trailnet did with the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis.

I’m not sure that’s possible, either. But it’s worth considering.

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