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Business Route 51 Study

from US 36 (Eldorado St.) to IL 48/121 (Pershing Rd.)

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is performing a Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Study to analyze roadway improvements for Business Route 51, from US 36 (Eldorado St.) to IL 48/121 (Pershing Rd.) in Decatur, Illinois.

This study will take a detailed look at improving the Northbound (NB) and Southbound Business Route US 51, locally known as Water Street and Main Street, respectively.  Improvements to be studied are options for reconstruction of the roadway and the associated drainage system, the addition of a shared-use path along the east side of Water Street, traffic signal modification, and roadway lighting updates.

IDOT and its engineering consultant team, aided by input from the public, will inventory existing conditions (such as traffic data and crash history), identify and document environmental constraints, and develop and refine improvement options (alternatives). The result of the study will be a preferred alternative that addresses identified transportation issues and serves the area’s future needs.

An inclusive, responsive public involvement program is an essential part of the study.

Stakeholder Meetings and Public Meetings will be held throughout the project study.  Please add your name and contact information by clicking on the Comments? Questions? Join The Mailing List! button to receive notifications of public involvement opportunities.


IDOT has a three-phase project development process. A Phase I Study consists of a Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Study which provides the support for the determination of a preferred option. During this phase, proposed geometry, environmental concerns, and proposed right-of-way are identified. Subsequently, Phase II is the phase when contract plans and the land acquisition is completed followed by Phase III, construction. The Business Route 51 project is at the beginning of Phase I.  All three phases are in IDOT’s current Multi-Year Program (2022-2027).

The Business Route 51 project is being proposed for many reasons.  The proposed improvements will serve to connect other transportation modes, enhances safety throughout the project corridor, use vacated right-of-way segments along the route, and provide a direct and positive impact on the adjoining neighborhoods.

There are multiple reasons for the decline in use of the Business Route 51 between Pershing Road and Eldorado Street:  the re-routing of Route 51 to the West Decatur Bypass, population decline, re-positioning of truck nodes to the east side of the City, and the prohibition of thru-traffic of 18-wheeler vehicles in the central business district. 

Conversion of north and south-bound Business Route 51 corridors to three lanes means the city can re-purpose segments of the existing right-of-way with non-motorized paths and make improvements to the overall streetscape. Improvements may include enhanced lighting, use of green/open space, and create better road access.  These improvements will be done in a way that will complement the City’s efforts to revitalize adjacent neighborhoods. 

Goals of the project include enhancing the safety of the route and provide better connection to key destinations such as the central business district, Decatur Memorial Hospital, Wabash Crossing, Crossing Healthcare, St. Teresa High School and regional shopping places, all of which lie along the corridor. The project study will analyze various options and alternatives for Business Route 51.  Options include completely separating vehicular traffic from non-motorized traffic.  All options to be studied will conform to current projects undertaken by the City to develop a plan for a county-wide network of off- road paths for non-motorized hike/bike recreation and transportation.

IDOT is also analyzing ways to repurpose the right-of-way along Business Route 51.  Business Route 51 no longer needs to carry as much traffic volume as in the past and could be used to improve livability of adjoining homes that are currently too close to busy traffic lanes.  


  1. How long will it take to complete the Phase I Business Route 51 Improvement Study?
    It is anticipated it will take approximately 24 months to complete the study.
  2. Will there be road closures?
    The study is in its early stages and too early to know if road closures will be required.
  3. Will there be displacements?
    The study is in its early stages and too early to know if displacements will be required.
  4. What happens at the end of the study (Phase I)?
    At the end of Phase I, the preliminary engineering and environmental study will be approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  This approval allows the project to move into Phase, which consists of land acquisition and development of contract plans.
  5. Does the public get a chance to comment on the improvements being developed or which alternatives are selected for moving forward? If so, how?
    There are and will be multiple opportunities to comment on the project.

You can also click on the Comments? Questions? button on the first page of this website.

It is anticipated up to three public meetings will be held in the form of an open house at a location in the project study area that is convenient and accessible to the public. These meetings will provide information on the study process and alternatives and seek input from the public.

You can write or call IDOT:

Illinois Department of Transportation
Region 4/District 7
400 West Wabash
Effingham, Illinois 62401
Phone: (217) 342-3951

(Coming Soon)

IDOT is currently at the early stages of Phase I for this project. As we make changes, this website will be updated accordingly.

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