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Champaign County Board Approves Olympian Drive Plan

The Champaign County Board has ended its long-running debate on Olympian Drive.

On a 19-to-7 vote, board members settled on a plan to connect the dead-end road north of Champaign with Lincoln Avenue in Urbana, where it connects with Interstate-74. Two weeks after rejecting a 'green' option, the Board approved a 'purple' configuration of North Lincoln expected to have less of an impact on residents, cutting diagonally through property owned by Squire Farms.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing praised the board's diligence after backing the Olympian project herself for years.

"This has thoroughly discussed," she said. "There's people around the world that want democracy. I don't know if they realize how exhausting it is, but certainly it's a better system that people have ever come up with. And I think the county board really took this seriously. And they studied it, and I think they've come to a conclusion."

Thirteen Democrats and six Republicans supported the project. Five of the seven 'no' votes came from rural Republicans, as well as Champaign Democrats Pattsi Petrie and Alan Kurtz.

The plan was approved with an amendment offered by Urbana Democrat James Quisenberry, who wanted to ensure the design didn't move any further south and east, where it could impact other residents.

"The property owners that the road goes right next to are the ones that are going to be most affected," Quisenberry said. "And they didn't really want the road there in the first place, but now that it's going there, we have to make sure they're protected as much as we can."

Prussing said the city will still work with individual landowners to alleviate any concerns as the project moves forward. She said anyone losing land will be paid for it by Champaign County or the city of Urbana, but those that do not agree would require govermment use of eminent domain for property.

The Olympian Drive portion of the project is expected to be built in 2013, with the stretch of Lincoln Avenue to be finished in 2015. The entire project is estimated at nearly $20-million, paid for through Illinois Jobs Now funding, the state motor fuel tax, and federal funds.