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East Peoria preps for Murray Baker closure

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EAST PEORIA (HOI) -- On Friday the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce provided alternate routes for drivers to consider when crossing the Illinois River once the Murray Baker Bridge closes in March.

"I feel confident with the plans that they have in place with the signage. When they redid 74 a number of years ago everybody was up in arms about how that was going to affect everything and it all worked out so," East Peoria Mayor John Kahl said.

Kahl and other city officials stopped by the Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino for the EPCC's Eggs and Issues breakfast to talk about the bridge closure.

The bridge has not been closed since the mid-2000s and the change in traffic pattern is expected to bring some problems to the city but police have been prepping since the Summer.

"Congestion is going to be in the area of Washington and River Road so our response times to some of the Levy District business could be a little bit extended. There will still be more traffic and more accidents so we're going to have adjust it," East Peoria Police Chief Steve Roegge said.

"We've worked with IDOT and they'll be adjusting the light cycle so we'll be able to work with it."

The work will consist of redecking the entire bridge, working on its steel and giving it a fresh coat of paint.

"This is really good for our area but there are going to be some growing pains this summer with the diversion of that 60,000 vehicle traffic every day," Midwest Engineering Associates Project Manager Robert Culp said.

East Peoria resident Dennis Vandiver said he knows the bridgework is necessary to keep it in good condition despite it being a nuisance.

"It's definitely going to be a hassle I think. You're definitely going to have to find alternative routes. I'm not sure which route we're going to use. We actually don't go to Peoria a whole lot but still, the trips we do makeover there it's going to be kind of rough getting back to this side," he said.

IDOT officials at the breakfast told 25 News that there are incentives for finishing the bridgework early, up to $175,000, and a $25,000-per day penalty for delays.

Stephanie Rodriguez

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