Peoria is asking the state for $5 million to help restore this 'vital piece of road'

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A steady stream of traffic travels up and down Laramie Street in South Peoria on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022.
A steady stream of traffic travels up and down Laramie Street in South Peoria on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022.

Peoria leaders are asking the state government for $5 million to reconstruct Laramie Street in South Peoria as part of the city's legislative wish list for 2022.

As of right now, though, the city of Peoria has to wait to see if the money comes from the state.

"Laramie is not in the best of shape, so we're looking at what we can do to reconstruct and repave that road," City Manager Patrick Urich said.

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A damaged section of South Laramie Street in South Peoria.
A damaged section of South Laramie Street in South Peoria.

Reviving a 'critical piece of roadway'

First District City Council member Denise Jackson said while Laramie is not as well-traveled a road as Western Avenue, which is now halfway through a two-year renovation, it is still a "critical piece of roadway." Jackson can't remember the last time it saw major repairs.

The road represents a major north-south route at the far southwestern edge of the city. The City Council agreed in January to request funds to rebuild.

"Not only for the residents that live down there, but there are other vehicles that travel that route and it is a pretty important route, especially if you use it as a resident or for the South Side Mission down there," Jackson said. "Lots of people travel that road."

Irene Lewis-Wimbley, who runs the Southside Community Center on Laramie, said the need for repairs is "clear to see." She says the road is littered with potholes and lacks sidewalks, raising safety concerns.

"I wish I could give you a nickel for how many people have given me a heart attack because they walk along the side of the street because there is no sidewalks," she said.

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'One of those forgotten areas'

Laramie Street is also "one of those forgotten areas" when it comes to redevelopment, Jackson said.

"Anybody who drives around our roads here in central Illinois, especially Peoria and not just in the 1st District but throughout many districts in Peoria, our roads have been neglected for a long time," Jackson said. "I would love to see Laramie make the list of projects the Legislature would support."

Lewis-Wimbley echoed the same sentiment. She said the frequent flooding Laramie Avenue sees, the lack of sidewalks, potholes and bad sewer drains, makes it feel like South Peoria is being forgotten.

"It sends a message to our community in so many ways that we don't matter," Lewis-Wimbley said. "You are forgotten because you can go to other sides of town and it's not like that."

"Laramie Street Lake" is a nickname Lewis-Wimbley has given to the street as the frequent flooding often causes huge pools of water to accumulate. She also said the potholes run so deep that sometimes when trucks hit them, it can shake the community center.

"They're terrible, between the potholes that just get patched over and over randomly, by the end of the winter they will be huge," Lewis-Wimbley said. "In front of the bus stops there will be a river."

Utility poles line South Laramie Street in South Peoria.
Utility poles line South Laramie Street in South Peoria.

The Laramie Street project could be vital for not just the South Side Mission, which is undergoing a $1 million expansion, but also for the South Side Christian Academy, which is also undergoing expansion a few blocks west of Laramie.

"Laramie becomes a vital piece of road in order to access those particular places," Jackson said.

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Peoria requests $5M from Illinois for Laramie Street reconstruction

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