The Veterans Memorial Drive interchange, located at Exit 94 on Interstate 57/64 (I-57/64) in Mt. Vernon, IL, was opened to traffic in October 2009. The City of Mt. Vernon invested in the extensions, relocations, and replacements of existing utilities and in roadway extensions to serve approximately 600 acres of new development on this side of the city.
Project Type:Interchange Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:35,000 Length (mi):0.00
Economic Distress:1.00 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):70 Population Growth Rate (%):0.04
Employment Growth Rate (%):0.34 Market Size:74,512 Airport Travel Distance:89.1 Topography:4
Region:Great Lakes / Plains State:IL County:Jefferson County
City:Mt. Vernon Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:City N/A
Impact Area:65-mile radius from the center point of the interchange Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:38.299800 / -88.946400
Initial Study Date:2006 Post Constr. Study Date:2014
Constr. Start Date:2007 Constr. End Date:2009
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2009 Planned Cost (YOE $):14,395,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):15,590,017 Actual Cost (curr $):16,935,086
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||20.16||8.80||28.96|
|Output (in $M's)||63.90||24.60||88.50|
The $16.9 million (in 2013 dollars) Veterans Memorial Drive interchange, located at Exit 94 on Interstate 57/64 (I- 57/64) in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, was opened to traffic in October 2009. The purpose of the project was to relieve congestion at the existing Broadway/Illinois Route 15 (IL 15) interchange (Exit 95) by providing a secondary access for traffic. The secondary purpose of the construction of the interchange was to provide new access to open land and spur economic development on the southwest side of the city, through the Enterprise Zone program of Illinois.
The City of Mt. Vernon invested in the extension, relocation, and replacement of existing utilities and in roadway extensions to serve approximately 600 acres of new development on the southwest side of the city. As a result of the interchange and infrastructure investments, several businesses have relocated to the area, new offices have opened, and a new school campus is being constructed. As of 2014, an estimated 654 jobs in retail, hospital/medical care, and construction sectors have been created as the direct result of the Veterans Memorial Drive interchange. The construction of the interchange and roadway extensions around it have resulted in traffic redistribution within the city's street network, which also led to environmental and safety benefits.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The City of Mt. Vernon is the county seat of Jefferson County, Illinois and is located mainly north of I-64 and east of Interstate I-57. Both I-57 and I-64 are key passenger and freight corridors. I-57 connects Chicago to Interstate 55 at Sikeston, MO, which ultimately provides access from Chicago to New Orleans. I-64 links St. Louis, MO in the west and Louisville, KY in the east, while passing south of the City of Mt. Vernon. The Interstate 57 corridor is one of the fastest growing traffic segments within the State of Illinois in terms of average annual traffic volumes.
The City of Mt. Vernon is also served by State Routes (SR) 15, 37, 142, and 148. Illinois 15 is an east-west state highway that connects the St. Louis metropolitan area with Indiana. Illinois 37 is a north- south highway that connects Cairo with US 45 just south of Effingham. Illinois 142 is a northwest-southeast highway that connects Mt. Vernon with Illinois 13, just east of Harrisburg. Illinois 148 is a north-south highway that is mostly parallel to I-57, and connects with I-57 north of Goreville and south of Mt. Vernon.
Mt. Vernon sits at the junction of three Class 1 railroads. The Union Pacific (UP) railroad, the CSX railroad, and the Norfolk Southern (NS) are all located on the east side of Mt. Vernon. Amtrak passenger rail service is located approximately 20 minutes northwest of Mt. Vernon in Centralia, Illinois. The nearest commercial airport to the city is the St. Louis International Airport, approximately 89 miles from the Veterans Memorial Drive interchange.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Before the construction of the project (2006), the City of Mt. Vernon had a population of 14,304 residents and Jefferson County had a population of 40,153 residents. Throughout the recession of the early 2000s, the populations of both the City of Mt. Vernon and Jefferson County remained relatively stable, experiencing small decreases. Until 2006, the population of the City has increased very slightly (0.15% annual change) while the average annual increase in per capita income was about 15% .
Between 2001 and 2005, the population in Jefferson County increased 0.04% annually. Over this same period, the annual employment growth rate of the county was 0.34%, while the annual income growth rate was 2.55%. The state of Illinois has seen a 0.54% average annual increase in population between 2001 and 2005. The employment across the state increased by more than 4% annually while per capita income increased by 3.5% annually during the same period.
Major employers within the City of Mt. Vernon are Continental Tire America, Walgreens Distribution Center, and Good Samaritan Regional Health Center. Jefferson County and the City of Mt. Vernon have worked to create a business-friendly environment. With that in mind, the city has streamlined the local permitting process, pre-zoned property, created tax increment financing (TIF) districts, and maintained the Mount Vernon/Jefferson County "Enterprise Zone." The Enterprise Zone is a program established in the state of Illinois to encourage developments and job creation in the area. The Mt. Vernon /Jefferson County Enterprise Zone was established in 1984, providing qualifying projects with benefits such as property tax abatement, building permit fee waiver, and sales tax waiver on building materials.
In 2001, the City of Mt. Vernon introduced a new city ordinance, incorporating a comprehensive development and land use plan for the city. Included in this plan were the zoning designations and definitions for undeveloped areas of the city. The 600-acre area west of I-57/64 and south of IL 15 was rezoned from agricultural to a combination of industrial, agricultural, and commercial to support the future development of the area, including a variety of retail businesses.
Traffic volumes along IL 15 on the western side of Mt. Vernon have steadily increased over the past two decades, due to the various businesses that have developed or expanded. During the 1980s and 1990s, truck stops were located in the northwest and southwest quadrants of the intersection between IL 15 and the southbound interstate ramps at Exit 95. During the 1990s, Walmart moved from its Times Square Mall location to the western side of the city and expanded to a Walmart Supercenter. The Walmart development included several small retail businesses and restaurants. West of the Walmart Supercenter, additional development occurred, including construction of Lowe's, Staples, and Kohl's stores.
Because of these developments, the area north of IL 15 and west of I-57/64 also grew to include four hotels, sit-down and fast-food restaurants, gas stations, a movie theater, a golf course, and an outlet shopping mall. Other business developments and expansions in the area included the Walgreens Distribution Center, Magnum Steel Works plant, and an Anheuser-Busch warehouse. With these developments and expansions, both development-generated passenger and truck traffic increased along I-57/64 and IL 15, as well as along IL 15 and I-57/64.
The IL 15 corridor between N. Shiloh Drive and the northbound ramps to I-57/64 is a four-lane urban roadway section with signalized intersections and commercial driveways. West of I-57/64, there are three truck stops and a truck repair shop. These businesses generate heavy traffic volumes turning to/from the interstate to IL 15. The traffic volume along IL 15, west of I-57/64, consists of a significant volume of large semi tractor-trailer trucks which have vastly different operating characteristics from passenger vehicles and light trucks. The tractor-trailer trucks are larger, have slower acceleration features, and have longer stopping distances compared to passenger cars. In addition to the traffic volumes found on the roadways and intersections within the study area, the high truck percentage affects the intersection capacity adversely.
As the traffic volumes along roadways and roadway intersections increased, adverse impacts such as congestion and crashes increased as well. Due to the decreased operational capacities of the roads and intersections, emergency response times to residents and businesses on the western side of Mt. Vernon increased. The intersection between Illinois Route 15 and the southbound ramps of the interstate (Exit 95) became a high-crash location.
To address these safety and capacity deficiencies, IDOT prepared a report to develop and analyze options to improve the intersection and roadway operating conditions, and to improve safety. As a result of this report and in support of the city's comprehensive development plan of 2001, Davidson Avenue was extended southward, Veterans Memorial Drive was extended westward, the intersection of Veterans Memorial Drive with Wells Bypass Road was reconstructed, and a new un-signalized intersection between S. Davidson Avenue and Veterans Memorial Drive was constructed.
The results of the IDOT study led to the development of an Access Justification Report (AJR), a Project Development Report (PDR), and construction plans, specifications, and estimates for the construction of a new full-access diamond intersection (Exit 94), located one mile south of the existing interchange between I-57/64 and IL 15. The new project was built between 2007 and 2009, and cost $16.9M (2013$). The new interchange opened in October 2009 and redistributed traffic, accessing both the interstate and IL 15, which improved intersection operations and safety along IL 15, and at the junction at Exit 95 southbound ramps and IL 15.
The secondary objective of the Veterans Memorial Drive (Exit 94) interchange project was to spur economic development in the area around I-57/64 and IL 15. The new Exit 94 interchange has improved access and increased economic opportunities through the Enterprise Zone program of Illinois discussed in previous section.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The Veterans Memorial Drive interchange (Exit 94), and related improvements to Veterans Memorial Drive and S. Davidson Avenue, were needed to redistribute the traffic at the existing interchange of I- 57/64 with IL 15 (Exit 95) to improve intersection operational capacity as well as to reduce the likelihood of crashes.
Before the construction of the Veterans Memorial Interchange (Exit 94), these intersections along IL 15 often experienced long delays and queues for traffic traveling eastbound and westbound along IL 15. This congestion resulted in vehicles running red lights, especially for the left-turn movement from eastbound IL 15 to northbound I-57/64. The southbound right-turn movement from I-57/64 to westbound IL 15 and the northbound left-turn movement from I-57/64 to westbound IL 15 also frequently had long queues of traffic that could not be accommodated during one traffic signal cycle. The long delays and queues contributed to impatient drivers of both passenger vehicles and tractor-trailer trucks, and perpetuated running red lights, contributing to the crashes along the IL 15 study corridor.
Between 2005 and 2007, the annual average daily traffic (AADT) volumes along IL 15 increased by 4.6% annually. The AADT volumes peaked during 2007. The new interchange opened to traffic in October 2009. Since Exit 94 has opened to traffic and has been operational for approximately six years, some traffic has been diverted from the IL 15 (Exit 95) interchange to the new interchange. The IL 15 traffic volumes, mainly west of I-57/64, reflect the shift in the traffic; it decreased from 31,800 AADT in 2009 to 26,200 in 2013. The IL 15 traffic volume between S. Davidson & Wells Bypass/Potomac dropped from 18,200 AADT in 2009 to 18,900 in 2013.
After the Veterans Memorial Drive interchange was opened to traffic, a roadway widening and reconstruction project on I-57/64 began in 2011. It was completed in 2013. During this time, there were mainline lane closures on I-57/64 as well as some closures of ramps of the new interchange. The I-57/64 widening project affected traffic at both Mt. Vernon interchanges; thus, the AADT data for 2011 and 2013 for IL 15, may be affected by the intersection construction. The AADT volumes show that the traffic along IL 15, west of I-57/64, was redistributed to Exit 94 and Veterans Memorial Drive. Between 2011 and 2013, the traffic on IL 15 decreased by 3% annually. This confirms that the Veterans Memorial Drive interchange project was successful in reducing traffic along IL 15 at I-57/64.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
As plans for the construction of the new interchange began, developers and investors also began planning for new developments in the vicinity of the project. The announcement of funding for Exit 94 was the catalyst for the construction of several developments on the east side of I-57/64 near Veterans Memorial Drive and along S. 42 Street.
A retirement community, as well as multiple medical offices and urgent care clinics, were constructed before the new interchange opened to traffic in 2009. These medical offices were built to support the relocation of Good Samaritan Hospital from its 12th Street location to its new location at Veterans Memorial Drive and I-57/64. The hospital owned the land near the Veterans Memorial Interchange and had plans for expansion before the interchange project started, but better access provided by the new interchange was also a factor in speeding up the process for this relocation.
The relocated hospital was constructed to be a state-of-the-art, 134-bed hospital that serves approximately 230,000 people in a 9-county region in Southern Illinois, as part of the St. Mary's Good Samaritan system. The project cost $247 million and employs 1,140 people. Half of these jobs are job relocations, while the other half (approximately 570 jobs) are considered to be the direct result of the Veterans Memorial Drive interchange project. The Good Samaritan Regional Health Center is located in the southeast quadrant of the interchange.
In March 2013, the small business Magnum Steel Works opened its new $15 million, 128,000 square feet facility west of the Veterans Memorial Drive interchange. Magnum Steel Works employs 64 people and utilizes both Exit 94 and Exit 95 for the plant's employee and truck traffic. Approximately 50% of the employment (32 jobs) is attributed to the improved access provided by the Veterans Memorial Drive interchange.
The City of Mt. Vernon has invested in providing the utilities and infrastructure to serve the 600-acres of new development on the southwest side of the city. In addition to that, the City has recently invested in land for the development of an industrial park south of IL 15 on the west side of I-57/64. This investment by the city is partly due to the construction of the Veterans Memorial Drive interchange. The City purchased 100 acres of land for a new industrial park, which is currently in the early planning stages but has already secured one tenant. Once completed, the project is expected to create around 500 jobs. However, as of 2017, the development of this industrial park was still in progress.
A new Kohl's store opened in early 2011 on S. Davidson Avenue and is accessible from both Exit 94 and Exit 95. In late 2013, the renovation of the existing Times Square Mall was completed. Times Square Mall is located at IL 15/Broadway and S.42 Street. The developer invested over $12 million for renovating this 22,000 square feet mall. Redevelopment of the mall was partially due to the construction of Exit 94, since it provides a secondary interstate access point. Together, the new Kohl's store and renovated parts of the Times Square Mall accounted for about 52 jobs created as a result of the Veterans Memorial Drive interchange project (35 and 17 jobs, respectively). In total, the project has resulted in 654 jobs to date.
The city applied effective land use policies and a rezoning program (mostly changing the agricultural zones to industrial and commercial land uses) in accordance with the state of Illinois Enterprise Zone incentive program to encourage development within the designated zone boundaries and create jobs. These new supportive zoning and land use policies, together with a growing business environment, helped to support and enhance the economic growth from the new interchange.
The City of Mt. Vernon has invested in extending the roadways, reconstructing the intersections, and providing adequate water, sewer, electrical, and communications utilities to the 600-acre area south of IL 15 and west of I-57/64. The sanitary sewer improvements included boring under the interstate to provide service. The city has also made a significant investment in the purchase of another 100-acres of land for the development of an industrial park. Local government officials recognized that the development of this area would not have occurred without the interchange but also noted that the interchange alone could not have attracted the development without investment in supporting infrastructure.
Organization, Name, Title
Illinois Department of Transportation, Susan Poe, Geometrics Engineer
City of Mt. Vernon, Mary Jane Chesley, Mayor
City of Mt. Vernon, Mary Ellen Bechtel, Interim City Manager
Jefferson County Development Corporation, Jonathon D. Hallberg, Executive Director
Jefferson County Highway Department, Brandon Simmons, County Engineer
Case Study Developed by University of Maryland