TILTON — An 8-acre Jack Flash truck stop and travel plaza still has plans, with Wortman-Meyer Properties submitting a new letter of intent and design, to build in Tilton in the next few months, as Tilton officials move forward with plans to revitalize the former General Motors site.
The truck stop would have two restaurants, and there’s also other business interest on other parts of the site, Tilton Mayor Dave Phillips said.
To facilitate this economic development, Tilton officials are pushing to modernize and make the Interstate 74/G Street interchange safer.
Phillips said Tilton’s ramps are “one of the only free flow ramps” remaining in the state, which is a big safety concern.
Tilton is applying for a $1 million Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity block grant, $1 million RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity) grant, and plans to pursue an Environmental Protection Agency brownfield grant and research other financing options to address I-74 and G Street Exit 214 safety issues.
Tilton will pursue 2022 Federal Highway Administration funding and another RAISE grant to construct the proposed $7 million G Street project in 2024.
This would include: lengthen the westbound and eastbound off ramps, install stop signs at the end of the ramps at G Street, add a westbound lane on I-74 from U.S. 150/Route 1 to G Street, lower G Street 1 foot to increase clearance to 15 feet, convert the 1st Street frontage road to two-way traffic, move 2nd Street traffic to 1st St away from residences, close portions of 2nd Street, close 1st and 2nd Street east of G Street and provide home access connections on 1st and 2nd streets.
There was a public meeting on the project at 6 p.m. July 21 at the Village of Tilton Community Center, 612 W. 5th St., Tilton.
According to a press release from the village, Tilton applied for a $1 million Federal Highway Administration RAISE Grant on July 12, 2021, for pre-construction activities and to design and complete a set of plans.
“IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) directed Tilton to design and fund the $8 million project alone, although 80 percent of the project construction is on federal and state funded and administered I-74,” the press release states.
IDOT officials said it’s in a bad location due to the proximity of the F Street bridges and the L Street bridges. There have been no fatal accidents at the site.
Tilton is appealing IDOT’s response and pursuing a meeting with the Illinois Secretary of Transportation and other state officials.
“In 2022, IDOT will reconstruct I-74 through Tilton. Project 70A29 has a program cost of $37 million. IDOT excluded Tilton from participating and the coordination of 70A29 since planning began in 2016. At the May 19, 2021 meeting that Tilton had to initiate and request with IDOT, IDOT told Tilton it was too late to get their safety and economic development needs added to Contract 70A29. IDOT told Tilton their needs were not within the scope or budget of 70A29,” according to the Village of Tilton press release. “The Village of Tilton fully informed IDOT of their needs in October of 2014 – 7 years ago. IDOT approved and signed and acknowledged Tilton’s Intersection Design Study for the G Street Interchange Upgrade on Oct. 27, 2015.”
Tilton officials say the village cannot afford the $8 million I-74 G Street Interchange Modernization Project. Tilton is applying for grants and researching other financial avenues to achieve the necessary safety and economic development improvements.
Phillips said they know IDOT has budget constraints too. As a municipal government they are “pushing forward ourselves” with this, he said.
The G Street Project planning and design is expected to cost $1 million. Its construction is expected to cost approximately $7 million.
Phillips said the truck stop and travel plaza would use H Street instead of G Street.
There have been no design improvements to the G Street interchange since it was built 60 years ago, Tilton officials say. The infrastructure upgrade would provide the necessary safety improvements and facilitate economic development on the 90-acre G Street industrial site north of the exit.
The one 70-acre parcel owner proposed the travel plaza and trucks stop. Another 55 acres remain for industrial manufacturing. There’s also a 4-acre ready-mix concrete plant, and another is being built.
The travel plaza is estimated to generate about $28 million of motor fuel tax revenue per year.
There’s also an opportunity for a pedestrian, bike path, and also to acknowledge the Potawatomi Trail of Death that passed 1,000 feet from the G Street project with a monument. The I-74 location will bring national attention to the tragedy, according to Tilton’s plans.