Rose and Niemerg File Legislation to Improve Safety During Road Closures

Limits the Ability to Close Parallel Roads at Same Time, Requires Updated Detour Information in GPS and Mapping Services, and Requires Reimbursement of Damages to Local Roads

Following several serious accidents on the I-70 corridor, including the recent fatal accident and anhydrous ammonia spill, State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and State Representative Adam Niemerg (R-Teutopolis) have filed legislation designed to make road construction projects safer. 

“The I-70 corridor between Effingham and Terre Haute has been an unmitigated disaster this summer, due to poor planning at the state level, along with navigation services sending people down dangerous routes during closures,” said Senator Rose. “Our goal is to make sure that major projects like this are planned in a safer manner, and that when roads do have to be closed, drivers are following the best and safest detour route possible.” 

 “Illinois interstates and highways are under constant construction and these construction zones continue to be the source of major crashes,” said Representative Adam Niemerg. “When traffic accidents shut down the flow of traffic – motorists get redirected to other routes. This is not a problem for most vehicles but when semi-trucks are involved, there needs to be some forethought on where to direct heavy trucks. We need to make sure that there is a clear, well thought out emergency route and the state needs to ensure that local governments are reimbursed if their local roads, which are not equipped for semi-truck traffic, are destroyed due to emergency traffic rerouting. What has happened to our local roads as result of the major accidents at the construction zone on I-70 near Effingham is appalling. These roads are completely torn apart because they were not built for truck traffic. What is needed is better planning, and better communication between IDOT and law enforcement and this is what our legislation would require.”

Importantly, the legislation prohibits the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) from placing a parallel secondary transportation route under construction while a primary route is also under construction, except in cases of emergencies.

In cases of road closures, GPS and navigation service providers will be required to use detours provided by IDOT and ISP to ensure the safest detour routes possible are being sent to motorists in real time. Those providers would be required to have someone on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to receive up-to-date detour and routing information, and to immediately update the routing in their services. GPS and navigation services that do not add detour information in a timely fashion could be liable for treble damages.

Finally, IDOT will be required to reimburse local governments for damage to local roads caused by detours necessitated by state construction projects.

The lawmakers held a press conference in Montrose on Friday, October 20th, to unveil the legislation. They are calling for the General Assembly to take up the new bill during the upcoming spring legislative session.

Chapin Rose

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