Pekin reopens Front Street after $6 million renovation

PEKIN, III (WMBD) — Mayor Mark Luft attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday to celebrate the completion of a $6.2 million upgrade to a heavily used industrial road in Pekin.

Front Street runs along the Industrial Park next to the Alton Pekin Ethanol Factory off Distillery Road in Pekin. It serves more than 800 semi trucks per day, according to Josie Esker, city engineer at Pekin.

“This is really a nightmare area for this. This used to be a one way street. It’s only about 20 feet wide. We have 800 trucks coming in, just piled up, waiting for each other in line. They pile up all the way to Pekin Bridge, sometimes on the highway,” he said.

The newly expanded and upgraded Front Street offers a complete replacement of concrete pavement, new gutters and sidewalks, new storm sewers and upgraded railroad tracks.

“We’ve widened the roads, we’ve created these staging lanes so trucks can move more freely and hopefully not backtrack onto the highway,” Esker said.

Esker said the road improvement project took nearly two years and it was great fun to be on the finish line. Almost all projects are funded through several grants.

“Honestly, it’s a relief. This has been a big project on our plate for a long time. It’s a pleasure to ride it open, it’s very smooth and we’re proud of it,” he said. “Without this road, this business would be closed.”