Pana Mayor Steve Sipes has received word from the Illinois Department of Transportation that they are considering splitting the U.S. Route 51 four lane bypass around Pana. The original Pana bypass is designed to go from 2.7 miles north of Illinois Rt. 16 to 0.4 miles north of the Shelby County line just south of Pana.
The full Pana bypass is 6.75 miles long and contains an overpass of the Union Pacific Rail Road, an interchange at Illinois Route 16, Sixth Street Road overpass over U.S. Route 51, an exit just north of Pana and a second south of the City. The cost of the full bypass is estimated at over $55 million. Due to the length and cost of the Pana bypass IDOT is considering the option of splitting the project into two separate contracts. With current funding issues and questions, the two separate contracts will give IDOT greater flexibility in programming and construction of the Pana bypass. According to IDOT that split would occur near Illinois Route 16 at the north east edge of Pana.
Currently the four mile Assumption bypass is under construction at a cost of $22.8 million. The next phase is a four mile section from four miles South of Assumption to just 2.7 miles north of Pana and is expected to cost $39 million. That phase is funded and construction is expected to begin as the Assumption bypass is completed. The time frames of these projects will depend on bid openings, completion of acquiring property and weather during the construction process.
Pana Mayor Steve Sipes says this is great news for Pana as developers now have a better feel as to the Pana bypass and now they can start making firm plans on projects at the north eastern edge of Pana.
Developers have viewed Pana as being in the middle of a 180 mile transportation travel corridor from Bloomington Illinois to Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Illinois Rt. 29 feeds traffic to the intersection at Pana with U.S. Route 51 and Illinois Route 16 which has become referred to as “Pana Crossing”.