Gov. Quinn (third from the left, blue shirt) breaks ground on the I-57 expansion projects. Photo: Leigh Caldwell

Quinn's Rare Visit



In Marion, the Governor made a rare appearance in the region yesterday afternoon to break ground on an expansion of I-57.
 
 “This is one of the job centers of Southern Illinois, and in order to have more jobs, you’ve got to have good transportation. You’ve got to be able to get there without having to wait for long periods of time, and you’ve gotta get there safely,” Quinn says.
 
Route 13 near I-57 in Marion will be closed starting Friday at 10 p.m. and will reopen Monday morning due to the teardown of the old I-57 southbound bridge. IDOT Engineer Keith Roberts explains the detours if you plan on traveling on the eastbound lanes of Route 13.
 
“The detour is going to be south on Halfway road, go east on Old Route 13, then go north on Route 37 and catch Route 13 on the other side of town, heading east,” Roberts said.
 
What about the westbound lanes?
 
 “Exactly the opposite. (You go) south on Route 37, then go west on old Route 13 until you get to Halfway Road until you get to the Drury Inn and the truck stop.”
 
Traffic off I-57 traveling to Marion will need to detour through old Route 13 or Route 37 over the weekend.

This is Quinn’s first visit to the area since August 2012. Quinn says two other planned visits to the area were cancelled – one by the weather and one because of last-minute business in Springfield. 
 
“If I can’t be present, I want to make sure our government’s present, working for the people. And that’s my job to make sure our government points in the right direction.”
 
But he says he was here when southern Illinois needed help.
 
“When Harrisburg had a tornado, I was here (within) a couple hours, and we worked hare with the people of Harrisburg.”
 
Quinn was asked about concealed carry and he said that while he disagrees with the legislature's decision to override his changes to the concealed carry law, he is moving forward.
 
“The law is the law. It was passed last Tuesday, and my job is to implement the law... I’ve told our state police and all of our government we will implement the concealed carry law. By January, under the law, people will be able to apply for permits, and they will be reviewed, and people will have an opportunity to get those permits."
 
Quinn also took a few minutes to share more tough words with Legislators charged with solving the state’s pension crisis.
 
“Now Legislators are going to get hit in the wallet, and it’ll be an alarm bell ringing every day until they put a bill on my desk that erases the liability, and I’ll sign that bill in 30 seconds.”
 
The governor defended his decision to close two correctional facilities, in Tamms and Murphysboro, a move that was protested by many in the area. Quinn insisted that no jobs were lost in the closures.
 
“They were all offered jobs, sometimes closer to their home. It was a tough decision. Some folks don’t agree with it, maybe. But it had to be done, in my opinion, and I did it for the common good.”
 
Quinn’s rare visit lasted about 30 minutes before he headed off to Decatur, his fourth stop of the day.
 
Leigh Caldwell reporting.

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