Getting Highway 34 Above the Flood Plain
By Rich Egger • Nov 22, 2015

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has developed half-a-dozen potential routes for an upgraded U.S. Highway 34 between the Mississippi River and Biggsville. The plan is to convert the two-lane road into a four-lane expressway with a grass median.

A preferred route for the four-lane highway was selected in 2003. But the levees near Gulfport were breached during the Flood of 2008, and a couple years later they were de-accredited by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The decertification created a much larger floodplain.

“We’re studying this because of the levee decertification, which happened several years ago,” said Tom Lacy, Studies and Plans Engineer for IDOT.

“One of the (new) alignments is the original, and we’re raising that. And the other alternates are different alignments that either stay in the floodplain or get out of the floodplain as soon as possible.
This map was handed out during the open house in Biggsville

This map was handed out during the open house in Biggsville

Credit Rich Egger

He said sections of the road that are in the floodplain must be raised around 15 feet to withstand a 500 year flood. Doing that creates a bigger footprint and adds to the cost.
IDOT held a public forum at West Central High School in Biggsville to gather input on the options. It will now review that input and do further studies. Lacy said the agency will then come back to the public with fewer options or a preferred route.
After that several other steps must be completed before construction can begin, and Lacy said there is still no money for land acquisition or construction.
“A project of this size is usually 80% federal funding, 80% to 90% federal funding. So it would rely on federal funds to complete the construction phase,” Lacy said.
There also is no money for land acquisition and construction of the stretch from Biggsville to Monmouth, which will also be upgraded to a four-lane expressway with grass medians, but studies for that portion are completed and all that remains is for the money to come through.

The entire Monmouth to Mississippi River stretch of Highway 34 is in the district of Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL). But Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL) said the highway is also important to his neighboring district.
“What I try to look at with all these highway projects is: when we allocate taxpayer money, is it going to help the private sector or help growth in this area?” said LaHood.
“Clearly Route 34 does that. It meets that requirement and so it’ll be one that I’ll be a strong advocate for.”

Jonathan Ahl contributed to this story.

Hwy 34 Coalition 2010 Meeting Announcement

The Highway 34 Coalition and the 34 VOICES of West Central CUSD 235 are sponsoring an informational meeting Monday, March 15, 2010 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at West Central Elementary School, Biggsville, Ill. on the current status of the US 34 expansion project.

Tom A. Lacy, Studies & Plans Engineer, Illinois Department of Transportation will provide a progress update on the Henderson/Warren US 34 Corridor. This meeting will serve as an opportunity for the public to learn about the status of the road project and the impact of the state capital bill passed last year. In addition to the US 34 report, there will also be an update on the IL Route 116/94 and US 34 intersection work currently underway.

The event will start with a networking time from 5:30-6:00 p.m. with light refreshments provided. The meeting and IDOT presentation will start at 6:00 p.m.

State and federal legislators have been invited to attend, pending availability.

The Highway 34 Coalition and 34 VOICES encourage area residents to attend. There is no cost to attend the meeting and reservations are not required.

For more information or questions, please contact Hwy 34 Coalition at

A New Era Of Transportation Progress On Road Ahead

Quincy Herald-Whig
Michael B. Hilfrink, Executive Editor/General Manager

The Tri-State region will have a strong voice in the 111th Congress with a congressional team that holds key committee assignments and others in the Obama administration who know this region and its transportation priorities well.

Rep. Phil Hare has been named to the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Hare was re-elected in November to a second term in Congress and has developed a strong working relationship with Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar.

Rep. Aaron Schock, beginning his first term in Congress after serving in the Illinois Legislature, also has been named to the committee and is familiar with the key transportation needs of the region.

They will be among the first to deal with the proposed infrastructure/jobs program envisioned by President-elect Barack Obama. The building program could involve $100 billion or more for highways, bridges and countless other public works projects.

The stakes are high. Under one scenario outlined by University of Massachusetts researchers, $148 billion a year would go into national infrastructure, creating 2.6 million new jobs of which about 10 percent would be in manufacturing.

Hare and Schock also are well positioned to shape the funding reauthorization bill that will set the nation’s course on transportation spending for years to come.

Rep. Ray LaHood, as Obama’s choice for secretary of Transportation, also brings a keen understanding of the region’s transportation needs to a position that will play a critical role in directing infrastructure investments.

Those needs have been persuasively identified by the Tri-State Development Summit, representing 35 counties in Western Illinois, Northeast Missouri, and Southeast Iowa. The Summit has made remarkable progress by speaking with one voice to advance a comprehensive transportation agenda for the region.

All but about 300 miles of more than 1,500 miles of four-lane highway priorities identified by the Summit when it was established after the flood of 1993 have been completed – a tremendous achievement.

Hare and LaHood have been strong supporters of the Summit and are well aware of the critical priorities that regional leaders have identified. Schock also has shown that he understands the importance of completing these vital connections.

The top priority in Illinois and the region is construction of the Macomb bypass, which will complete a new Illinois corridor for the Chicago-to-Kansas City Expressway. It is crucial for the bypass to move forward since all other portions of the C-KC within Illinois have been completed. Hare has pledged to lead the way in Washington to secure funding.

Missouri will complete its portion of the C-KC corridor in December with the scheduled opening of the final four-lane segment of US 36. When that work is complete, it will become even more important to move forward on another key Summit priority: The Hannibal Expressway to be built west of the city.

The Expressway will provide a new four-lane connection linking the Avenue of the Saints/US 61 north from Hannibal to St. Paul, Minn., to the Avenue south from Hannibal to St. Louis. The Avenue corridor is now carried on slow, dangerous and congested route through downtown Hannibal.

Other Illinois priorities include four-lane construction of US 34 between Monmouth and Burlington, Iowa, which will complete the Trans Iowa-Illinois Freight Corridor from Des Moines to Peoria. The 22-miles segment in Illinois is the only two-lane portion of this major new corridor and creates a dangerous bottleneck near schools and residential areas.

Other Illinois priorities include completion of US 67 as a four-lane corridor south from Macomb to Alton, and extending the Ill. 336 corridor east from Macomb to Peoria.

The Macomb bypass is essential not only to connect Ill. 336 west of Macomb to US 67 north of the city, and complete the C-KC, but as a link connecting Ill. 336 west of Macomb with the corridor east to Peoria. LaHood has been a strong proponent of extending Ill. 336 east to Peoria, as well as other Summit priorities.

All of those Illinois projects are in either Hare’s 17th District of Schock’s 18th District.

Hare brought Oberstar into the district last year, where he met with Summit representatives who briefed him on regional transportation and infrastructure priorities. Hare has promised that Oberstar will visit Quincy soon this year.

That visit will provide Oberstar with a firsthand look at how the transportation investment identified by the Summit are critical to ensuring long-term growth and prosperity for this three-state region. Oberstar will be a key player, not only in work on the stimulus and infrastructure package, but in crafting a new Federal Highway Bill to replace legislation which is expiring.

The importance of transportation improvements, construction jobs and economic development was made clear in a report released by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials last week. It shows that every $1 invested in the highway system yields $5.69 in economic benefits.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, who holds the second-ranking leadership post in the Senate and is very familiar with the Summit agenda, also will continue to be a strong and effective advocate for this region during transportation discussions.

There is now in place what could be described as a perfect alignment of transportation resources and political leadership sharply attuned and well positioned to address the critical infrastructure priorities of the Summit region.

These elected leaders – Rep. Phil Hare, Rep. Aaron Schock, former congressman and Transportation Secretary designate Ray LaHood – have served the needs of the region well in the past.

Working with Chairman Oberstar and other elected and appointed leaders in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri – governors, transportation officials, state legislators and congressmen – they can be counted on to do so in the future.

With that expectation, the 111th Congress and new administration holds great promise for bringing an era of unmatched transportation progress and economic growth to the region.

Hare Appointed to House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee

From Congressman Phil Hare's Newsletter
Dear Friend,

On Tuesday, I was sworn in to my second term in Congress. It is a tremendous honor to represent you in Washington.

I will continue to fight for policies that create jobs, make health care more affordable, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, honor our veterans, and help working families make ends meet.

I was excited this week to learn of my appointment to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Aging infrastructure is one of the great challenges facing communities in our district. I will use this seat to fight for important federal funding to rebuild our roads, bridges, schools, and locks and dams along the Mississippi River.

The nomination of Transportation Secretary-designate Ray LaHood, a former Congressman from Peoria, is also welcome news. I have a great relationship with Ray and plan to work with him and President-elect Obama to see that our region gets its fair share.

With this appointment, I will play a major role in crafting the upcoming economic stimulus package, which is expected to focus heavily on infrastructure. I look forward to putting my stamp on this critical legislation and getting our economy moving again, especially after today's news that we lost nearly 3 million jobs in 2008.

As always, I am eager to hear your ideas and suggestions. Please do not hesitate to contact me.

Phil Hare
Member of Congress
Phil Hare
Press Release - House T&I Committee Welcomes New Members

U.S. 34 Opened To Normal Traffic Flow

IDOT will monitor during repairs
By Matt Hutton
GateHouse News Service
August 7, 2008

U.S. 34 was opened back to “pre-flood” conditions and a normal traffic flow Tuesday night.
The highway was reopened several weeks ago with concrete barriers in the water and a temporary roadway constructed of rocks to raise the level above the water, said Shane Larson, Illinois Department of Transportation District 4 operations engineer.
Officials were not immediately concerned about the condition of the road surface after the waters receded, but they were afraid the waters would wash away or erode the road’s base.

“A lot of those concerns never played out the way we thought they might,” Larson said.

The water did wash away some of the rocks on the shoulder of the road. So, IDOT is using the same rocks that made up the temporary road to rebuild the shoulder. Traffic is now moving in all four lanes where U.S. 34 is four lanes and two lanes in the two-lane sections.

“(Traffic) is moving pretty much like normal. The only thing that’s still an issue is Carman Road is still closed. There’s still some water that has not receded,” Larson said.

IDOT expects to have Carman Road open and the traffic signals turned back on by early next week.

The biggest thing IDOT officials will be watching now is how well the asphalt holds up.

“We’re not seeing any immediate problems with (the driving surface), but it’s hard to tell what it will do over time. But it’s not one of those things that will jump out as a huge repair problem,” Larson said.

IDOT will be doing construction that had been scheduled before the flood on the section of U.S. 34 starting at the end of the four-lane section going east toward Gladstone.

“Coincidentally, it was going to be under construction anyway,” Larson said. “People will think ‘that was fast,’ but it’s just coincidental.”

He added that the flood would not delay the construction schedule and the work would be complete before winter.

Larson did remind drivers to use caution because there is still water off to the side of the roadways and some drivers have been distracted by the sight. When the temporary road opened to traffic, IDOT saw more traffic than normal because “people are curious.”

“People need to keep their eyes on the road, don’t focus on (the water),” he said. Obviously we’re not going to stop people, but drivers need to use caution.”

U.S. 34 Bridge Reopens

Daily Review Atlas
Friday, July 18, 2008

GULFPORT — U.S. 34 between IL 164 and the Mississippi River were reopened to traffic at about 6:30 p.m. Friday. Motorists should be advised that traffic in both directions will be reduced to one lane and controlled by temporary traffic signals. Because of the the nature of the flooding, motorists will drive on a small portion of gravel and should exercise “extreme caution” and reduce speed. Motorists should expect travel delays and may experience longer delays during rush hours.
In Biggsville, U.S. 34 will be reduced to one lane on Monday at Old Tom Creek, about one-half mile east of Biggsville, for bridge beam repairs. The pavement width will be reduced to 10.5 feet through the work zone. Temporary one-way traffic signals will be installed to control traffic while the repairs are done. This work will is expected to be completed by late August.
In Galesburg, the exit ramp from westbound U.S. 34 to Main Street will be closed for asphalt resurfacing, beginning Tuesday and continuing through Aug. 1, weather permitting. Motorists are advised to use the marked detour route along U.S. 150 (Henderson St.).

Flood May Affect Plans For U.S. 34 Expansion

BIGGSVILLE — The Highway 34 Coalition is examining whether last month's flooding will require expansion plans to be altered. Read on...

Photos of Flood's Effect of Highway 34

Highway 34 Golf Outing

Don’t forget to sign up for the Highway 34 Golf Outing on Thursday, July 24, 2008! This fun annual event raises funds to promote the four-lane expansion of Highway 34 between Burlington, IA and Monmouth, IL. The registration deadline is Tuesday, July 1st for sponsorship opportunities, and Friday, July 18th to golf.

Rep. Myers Encouraged With $130 Million Allocated In IDOT’s Six-Year Plan

May 22, 2008
Macomb, IL…Funding for several vital road projects throughout the 94th District has been allocated in the Illinois Department of Transportation’s recent six year plan, according to Rep. Myers. Read on...


May 5, 2008
By: Ralph Grimm
It was one year ago yesterday that Melissa Munoz tragically lost her life on US Rt. 34, literally outside the front door of our high school. The events of that day changed the lives of many, many people. Certainly, the accident forever changed the lives of Melissa’s family, whom we are so honored to have in attendance today. Read on...

Teens Plea For U.S. 34 Expansion

BIGGSVILLE - West Central student group 34 VOICES will honor the one-year anniversary of the death they will never forget. Read on...

Concerned Voices

The Hawk Eye

I am writing this letter so that anyone who drives on the section of Highway 34 stretching from the Great River Bridge to Monmouth, Ill. is aware that there is a group of students from West Central High School who are being extremely proactive in trying to get that section of highway widened for the safety of all who use it.

This group of students has named themselves 34 Voices. Their mission is to move our elected government officials to make this part of Highway 34 a safer road to travel.

If you have traveled at all on this road, you know the amount of deterioration that has taken place. Not only that but the road is narrow, with deep ravines along each side that have taken many lives over the years. 34 Voices does not want anyone else to get a phone call telling them that a loved one has died along Highway 34.

I believe we should support this young group of people and help them to better our community by making travel easier and safer. By strengthening our infrastructure, it will not only save lives but help Henderson County grow economically. They are planning several community activities in the near future to help raise awareness of the project. Please do whatever you can to support them.

Gladstone, Ill.

Youth Drive Road Effort

BIGGSVILLE, Ill. -- West Central High School students will collect signatures Saturday at various locations supporting an effort to widen U.S. 34 in Henderson and Warren counties. Read on...

34 Voices Hopes To Improve Safety By Expanding Highway To Four Lanes

Students at West Central High School in Biggsville, Ill., hope to bring more than their "34 Voices" to state and federal lawmakers during the next few months.
Representatives from the student group 34 Voices, formed to raise awareness and help secure funding to widen U.S. 34, shared their goal Tuesday with the Noon Lions Club of Burlington. Read on...

Lawmakers, Leaders Discuss US 34 Project

MONMOUTH - The need to expand US 34 to four lanes was one of the two key projects discussed by key lawmakers on Friday. US Rep. Phil Hare, D-IL., invited US House Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar, D-MN, to the 17th District to learn more about the concern with expanding US 34 to four lanes from Monmouth to Burlington, Iowa. Read on...

High School Lobbyists Win Grant

Biggsville - A group at West Central High School has been awarded a grant to further its promotion of an expanded U.S. Route 34 and safer drivers.
The students belong to 34VOICES, one of 105 high school groups in Illinois to win a $2,000 grant for highway safety programs. Read on...

Highway 34 Coalition Still Waiting For Money

The Hawkeye
Biggsville, IL -- Residents of western Illinois along U.S. 34 are waiting. They are waiting for a capital budget from the Illinois State Legislature, and waiting for Gov. Rod Blagojevich to approve a budget that will bring promised funding to turn the dangerously crowded stretch of highway into a four-lane industry corridor.

Time for Action

Political leaders must put differences aside and approve a capital plan before more lives are lost.

A fatal traffic accident that claimed the life of a young mother of four near Monmouth this month is a powerful reminder of the urgent need for Illinois political leaders to approve a capital bill this session. Read on...

900 Reasons

On May 4, a 35 year old Moulton, Iowa, woman was tragically killed in an automobile accident on U.S. 34, approximately two miles west of Biggsville and in front of West Central High School. How many more people must lose their lives before something is done to improve U.S. 34 to four lanes from Monmouth to Burlington? Read more…

US 34 Effort Continues

The U.S. 34 Coalition is continuing its efforts to have the highway expanded to four lanes from Monmouth to Burlington, Iowa. Officials on both ends of the highway claim a four-lane interstate will be an economic boost for both Monmouth and Burlington. Read more…

Rep. Myers to Meet with Hwy 34 Coalition

Members of the Highway 34 Coalition plan to meet with Representative Richard Myers at 2 p.m., Wednesday, January 24 at the Country Fun Restaurant, located on US 34, west of Biggsville. The topic of the discussion will be making the completion of US 34 as a four-lane from Monmouth to the Carman Road as the state's transportation priority. Read more…

Highway 34 Discussed

MACOMB - Transportation is a driving force in creating economic opportunity was one of many topics discussed during Monday afternoon's Capital Roundtable at Macomb City Hall. Area residents voiced their opinions about the need to improve U.S. Highway 34 from Monmouth to Burlington, Iowa. Read on...