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people walking in parking lot at Farm Progress Show
SAFER: “This is a change,” says Bruce Bird, Macon County, Ill., engineer. “But especially from the traffic aspect, it’s probably going to be a lot safer than it was.”

Roadway changes near Farm Progress Show increase safety

Visitors to the 2019 Decatur, Ill., show arriving from the west and north will stay on Route 48 for a half-mile longer, taking pressure off the interstate.

When it comes to moving slow-going traffic into the Farm Progress Show grounds off Route 48 near Decatur, Ill., Bruce Bird, Macon County engineer, thinks of new pavement added to the route as storage — with enough room to keep a large backup from forming out to Interstate 72 at Exit 144.

Since the last Farm Progress Show in Decatur in 2017, this slight road adjustment between Route 48 and Brush College Road — the main access to the Farm Progress Show — is the only change from the norm. Drivers coming from the west and north will be on Route 48 for about a half-mile longer.

“They won’t get backed up on I-72, which has always been a big issue, especially from the state police’s perspective,” Bird says. “This is a change. But especially from the traffic aspect, it’s probably going to be a lot safer than it was.”

The contractors wrapped up the adjustment for the northern access route in July.

Bridge work ahead

Bird says for people coming from the east, the route will look exactly the way it has in the past. For the next Decatur show, two years from now, “it might look entirely different,” he says, noting they hope to start replacing bridges within a year, which will affect the “line of cars” extending across Lake Decatur when attendees arrive in the morning.

“All I can say about that is stay tuned,” he says.

According to Bird, for future shows in Decatur, there are plans for a whole new access road. While Decatur is still securing funds for a beltway that would loop around the north and east sides of the city, Bird says plans are in development to create a roadway segment to the east and north of the Farm Progress Show site.

“It’s going to loop around and avoid the grounds entirely. But whenever we get that section of road built, it will just provide a different access way in and out of the show — actually improve the access much more,” Bird says.

Traffic is worst when the bulk of attendants arrive for the show in the morning.

“The biggest traffic issue has always been getting everybody to the site. Everybody leaves at their own pace, and so it’s never too much of an issue whenever they leave, unless there’s a concert, of course,” he says.

Bird says there’s always a noticeable uptick in traffic when the show gets into town.

“We see the out-of-state plates, and we see all the pickup trucks with the company’s logos on the side, so it’s really obvious whenever they’re out, round and about town,” Bird says. “Everybody picks up, and the businesses, especially the restaurants, they can always tell when people are in town.”

This year’s Farm Progress Show is Aug. 27-29.

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