From WILL - News Local/State -

Work Begins Monday on Olympian Drive Extension

A "Road Closed" sign marks the east end of Olympian drive, where construction equipment is parked, awaiting work on the highway's extension.

Olympian Drive at Apollo Drive in Champaign awaits construction work for its extension to the east. Jim Meadows (Illinois Public Media)

Olympian Drive along the north end of Champaign will be extended into the north edge of Urbana, with a two year construction project set to begin Monday.

The 1.2 mile extension will take Olympian Drive east to North Lincoln Avenue in Urbana, with the greater part of the $7 million cost going to build a bridge over the Canadian National tracks. The project is being paid for with state and federal funds.

The initial construction work will include the bridge substructure work, as well as construction of drainage ditches, field tile connections, pep culverts and earth embankment.

Work on the earth embankment between the railroad tracks and North Lincoln Avenue will require the closing of a section of North Lincoln from October 2014 through the summer of 2015, until the new pavement and intersection of Olympian Drive and North Lincoln Avenue is completed.

The Olympian Drive extension project will also include a regional detention pond, a borrow pit, pavement marking, culvert placement, signing and landscaping.

The project has faced criticism from some landowners along the route and opponents of urban sprawl. But Urbana Public Works Director Bill Gray says the extension has been part of the Olympian Drive master plan for years.

“We’ve always looked at a major east-west arterial roadway, about a mile or two north or parallel to Interstate 74", said Gray. "These are very expensive projects and slowly they’re being built. But this certainly will help with job creation and transportation connectivity in the area.”

When it’s completed, Gray says the extension will give businesses along and near North Lincoln Avenue access to I-57. He expects a companion project ---- not yet begun ---- will improve North Lincoln Avenue where it will intersect with Olympian Drive.

Ultimately, plans for Olympian Drive call for it extending from Duncan Road northwest of Champaign to U-S Route 45 northeast of Urbana.

Categories: Government, Transportation