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Some fairgrounds roads to be resurfaced

State Journal Register

Tuesday, July 10, 2018  |  Article  |  Doug Fink

State Fair, Fairs

Illinois state fairgoers will see some tangible effects from the new state budget.

Workers started resurfacing three of the major roads on the fairgrounds Monday with plans to have the work finished by the start of the fair on Aug. 9.

Workers will mill and resurface Main Street from the Main Gate to Illinois Avenue, which borders the carnival midway and the race track. Central Avenue from Main Street to Eighth Street will also be resurfaced, as will Illinois Avenue from roughly Main Street to the northwest side of the Grandstand.

The work itself is being done by Illinois Department of Transportation crews in conjunction with the Capital Development Board and the Department of Agriculture. Cost of the work is put at $475,000. It will come out of the $30 million set aside in the newly enacted state budget to start doing badly needed repair projects at the fairgrounds.

“It has been well documented that there is an overabundance of deferred maintenance on the Illinois State Fairgrounds,” Agriculture Director Raymond Poe said in a statement. “We are committed to making sure the buildings and roadways are safe for fairgoers and we are thrilled to see that progress is being made just in time for this year’s fair.”

State officials have estimated there is $180 million in deferred maintenance needs between the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and the Du Quoin fairgrounds.

Fair spokeswoman Morgan Booth said the road work is the only significant work that will be undertaken prior to the fair.

The Coliseum, which was closed in 2016 out of concerns that it was structurally unsafe, will remain closed this year. Plans call for repairs to be completed and the building reopened in 2019.

Earlier this year the state had to issue an emergency contract to repair the roof on the 116-year-old Barn 13. In justifying the emergency contract, state cited “severe structural damage to the system with the potential for the roof to collapse...”

Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr