Champaign’s 4th Street Extension Done for U of I Move-In Day
By Jeff Bossert
There’s a new route to the University of Illinois campus from the south as students move in for the semester.
Champaign Civil Engineer Chris Sokolowski said completing 4th Street from St. Mary’s Road to Windsor Road was also a priority for the first Illini football game on Aug. 31. He noted the expansion includes land for future businesses with the U of I’s Research Park.
“Most of the development of the park is to the west of 1st Street right now," he said. "And the lack of infrastructure to the east of 1st street was kind of not holding back, but it was something that needed to happen in order for them to continue to develop the research park.”
Sokolowski said the $5 million extension is funded entirely through the Illinois Jobs Now capital funding program, and the project came in under bid, meaning money is left over to plant some trees on the route, as well as sidewalks along the east side of 1st Street.
U of I Research Park Director Laura Frerichs said completion of the construction opens up about 160 acres of what is only served as farmland until now.
She said the first two phases of the research park to the west are running out of space.
“This new road infrastructure, if you drive it, just gives you a really dramatic vision of how much land there is now to develop," he said. "And we’re working on plans for hopefully a new building to begin construction, and open up next year."
Frerichs said the core focus of the research park is research and technology, but says the area could house also include amenities like housing and retail to support the businesses.
Sokolowski says an unusually dry summer in 2012 helped crews make progress on 4th Street as the project got started.