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Dee Bennett Road- Phase I Project Study


Dee Bennett Road (County Highway 34) carries traffic (approximately 2,100 vehicles per day) along the north side of the Illinois River from Illinois 178 in Utica to the Village of Naplate.  Due to the proximity of the roadway to the Illinois River and its relatively low elevation, storm events and subsequent flooding causes water to overtop portions of the roadway between IL Route 178 and Koenig Road several times a year. The frequent flooding not only causes road closures to the general public but also threatens emergency access to the Starved Rock Lock and Dam for the operators and other staff members who work at the facility 24/7, even during flood events.  The Peru Hydroelectric Power Station and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center are also served by the same access drive off Dee Bennett Road and lose access during flood events.  In addition, the existing roadway alignment and design have several deficiencies that potentially contribute to the overall user safety along Dee Bennett Road.

To address these safety and access issues, the LaSalle County Highway Department submitted for and obtained a Federal Land Access Program (FLAP) Grant.  This will fund the necessary Phase I engineering, alignment studies, environmental impacts and reports, public involvement, preliminary plans, cost estimates, and public agency coordination in order to prepare and gain approval of the required Environmental Assessment (EA). Subsequent project phases will be funded with other sources.


The Phase 1 project was awarded to Thomas Engineering Group, LLC.  Their work will consist of the study and preliminary design for relocating and/or raising Dee Bennett Road within the project study area.  The primary challenge during this phase of the project will be to identify the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative while balancing the adverse impacts with improved facility function. More specifically, the elements of the purpose and need include:


  1. Provide safe and dependable access during flood events to the Starved Rock Lock and Dam, the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center, and the Peru Hydroelectric Power Station.
  2. Address safety concerns for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians due to geometric deficiencies of Dee Bennett Road: parked cars on the shoulder/side of Dee Bennett Road, narrow shoulders, no turn lanes into the lock and dam entrance, and no separation of vehicular traffic from bicycles/pedestrians.
  3. Provide connectivity from the local bike trail system to the Visitor Center and facilities for fishing, bird/eagle watching, or other recreation/tourism activities.


Who is supporting this Project?

We welcome your comments.  Click HERE to contact us.

A Public Information Meeting was held on January 11, 2018 at the Utica Village Hall.  Thank you to all who took the time to attend.

If you missed the meeting, you can still see the informational video by clicking HERE.


Lawrence Kinzer County Engineer
Lawrence J. Kinzer PE, PLS, County Engineer

The LaSalle County Highway Department is responsible for the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of 371 miles of county highways, 79 major bridges and numerous drainage structures. Read More

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