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Southwest Illinois News is a weekly news publication spotlighting attractions, events, entertainment, tourism, jobs and business developments in Southwestern Illinois
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Lane Closures Coming on Eastbound I-55/70
COLLINSVILLE, IL (SWI-News.com), August 11, 2017 - The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has announced that lane closures will be encountered on eastbound Interstate 55/70 at Interstate 255 near Collinsville.

The lane closures are necessary to paint two bridges carrying Interstate 255 traffic over Interstate 55/70 and to perform pavement repairs. Two lanes will remain open during weekdays, as well as the ramp to Interstate 255. This work will begin on Monday, August 14 and is expected to be completed by August 25, weather permitting.

The contractor on this project is Venus Painting Company of Valparaiso, Indiana.

Updates on the impacts to traffic are available at stl-traffic.org


Alton Kicks Off Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan with Resident Survey
ALTON, IL (SWI-News.com), August 6, 2017 - The City of Alton is asking residents to complete an online survey about walking and bicycling in the community. The survey is available at /www.surveymonkey.com/r/AltonWalkBike through the end of September. This is the first step in a ten-month process to create a plan for the City's pedestrian and bicycle routes, connections, and improvements.

The City of Alton contracted with HeartLands Conservancy to develop the plan, which will identify community goals for walking and biking, determine appropriate routes, prioritize infrastructure investments, and strengthen the City's applications for state and federal funding.

In addition to the survey, the process will include a Community Advisory Committee of residents and who will review and provide input into the plan as it develops. The City will also hold an open house meeting on September 19, 2017, from 5 - 7 pm at Lucian A. Harris Public Works Building, 2 Emmie Kaus Lane. Anyone is welcome to attend.


Illinois Prepares for Eclipse 2017
There is no major landmark around Carbondale, Illinois, but people will flock to the area around the town on Aug. 21 as totality will last for 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds, longer than anywhere else in the world that day. Graphics courtesy NASA
Carbondale Will Be in the Path of Total Solar Eclipse Longer Than Anywhere Else
CARBONDALE, IL (SWI-News.com), July 30, 2017 - Coast to coast, from Oregon to South Carolina, 14 states will - over a span of almost two hours - experience more than two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day.

When the moon completely blocks the sun, day will turn into night and make visible the otherwise hidden solar corona, the sun's atmosphere. Bright stars and planets also will become visible. Using specialized solar viewing glasses or other equipment, all of North America will be able to view at least a partial eclipse lasting two to four hours.

Eclipse duration: 11:52 a.m. - 2:47 p.m. CDT
Totality start: 2:21 p.m. CDT
Totality duration: 2 minutes and 41 seconds


A total solar eclipse is one of the shortest astronomical events, but for those near Carbondale, Illinois, the eclipse in August will seem a bit longer than it will for everyone else. Carbondale will also be in the path of another total solar eclipse tracking across the U.S. on April 8, 2024.

There is no major landmark around Carbondale, Illinois, but people will flock to the area around the town on Aug. 21 as totality will last for 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds, longer than anywhere else in the world that day.

Many hotels in the area are completely booked due to its optimal location, so last-minute travelers may have a difficult time making reservations in this part of the country.

"Never before will a celestial event be viewed by so many and explored from so many vantage points - from space, from the air, and from the ground," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "With our fellow agencies and a host of scientific organizations, NASA will continue to amplify one key message: Take time to experience the Aug. 21 eclipse, but experience it safely."


Illinois Traveler Survey Shows Multimodal Support
SPRINGFIELD, IL (SWI-News.com) - While the majority of Illinois residents who commute to work rely on their personal vehicles, there continues to be strong support throughout the state for public transportation and passenger rail, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation's latest Illinois Traveler Opinion Survey. Conducted every year since 2001, the survey seeks feedback on travel habits, driver behavior, preferences for funding transportation and IDOT performance.

"These survey results show that our residents understand and appreciate that Illinois is the transportation hub of North America and the various modes operate as one system," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. "Feedback from you is important to us. In 2017, we are striving to set the bar even higher for IDOT while trying our best to deliver the world-class transportation system that Illinois expects and deserves."

Key feedback received:

  • 83 percent of respondents who commute in Illinois say they drive, but 95 percent support IDOT contributions to the building, maintenance and operations of public transportation systems in Illinois.
  • 94 percent of respondents indicated they strongly support or somewhat support passenger rail, with 92 percent saying they support increasing the amount of service.
  • 69 percent believe the condition of the state highway system is good or very good.
  • 32 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds reported using a cellphone while driving at least twice in the previous month. The 35- to 59-year-old age bracket reported they engaged in the same behavior 20 percent of the time.
  • 83 percent rate IDOT's overall performance as very good or good.
Results from the 2016 survey, conducted last fall with the help of the University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office, are based on 1,176 responses obtained from a representative panel of respondents who met qualifying criteria.

New, Improved 'Getting Around Illinois' Website
SPRINGFIELD, IL (SWI-News.com) - The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has introduced a redesigned GettingAroundIllinois.com that provides continually updated information in a mobile-friendly format that's more convenient for the motoring public in Illinois.

"We are very excited to provide this new-and-improved resource for travelers," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. "GettingAroundIllinois.com is a great place to get important information - from winter road conditions to construction site locations to road or bridge closures - for any trip, any time of the year. The new mobile-friendly format will get travelers the information they need quickly and conveniently."

In keeping with the demands of today's users, the new website includes the ability to identify and zoom in to your location, travel route or destination, whereas the former site offered a static map that provided a broad view of a user's overall location. Additionally, the new website is operated by a cloud-based system, creating a better opportunity to provide real-time information and reducing potential system downtime.

As construction season gets underway, work zone information throughout the state is accessible by selecting the map's "road construction zone" layer to see where a work zone is located, how long it will be in place and what type of work is being done.

One of the more popular features of GettingAroundIllinois.com is the winter road conditions map, which averages more than 2 million visitors during snow-and-ice season and is regularly used by news media and shared widely on social media. The new map features an enhanced color scheme that better aligns with current map technology used by surrounding states, creating a more seamless travel experience for truckers and tourists, and is easier for color-blind individuals to discern.


Drury Inn & Suites Completes Renovation of Hotel in O'Fallon, Illinois
O'FALLON, IL (SWI-News.com) - The Drury Inn & Suites St. Louis O'Fallon, Illinois, has completed a full renovation to the property's 180 guest rooms and suites, public areas and more than 2,800 square feet of meeting and event space.

Renovations to the hotel's guest rooms include new mattresses and headboards, carpet, paint, window treatments, lighting and artwork. All of the guest bathrooms also received new showerheads, hair dryers and soft goods. The public and meeting areas of the hotel received upgraded lighting, new furniture complete with USB plug and play charging ports and artwork inspired and reflective of the St. Louis landscape.

"This is a great, fresh look for our property," said Ashley Timmons, general manager, Drury Inn & Suites St. Louis O'Fallon, Illinois. "Our upgrades were influenced by guest feedback and were made with their satisfaction in mind. We're excited for our guests to experience our new look and feel."

The hotel is 20 minutes east of downtown St. Louis off I-64. Conveniently located near Scott Air Force Base, the hotel is also near a wide variety of local attractions. Because of its central location and numerous amenities, Drury Inn & Suites St. Louis O'Fallon, Illinois, is an ideal location for business and leisure travelers.


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