Roadways In Peoria, IL

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Peoria is a mid-sized city located in central Illinois along the Illinois River. With a population of around 115,000, Peoria serves as the economic hub for the surrounding region. The city features an extensive network of roads and highways that connect neighborhoods within Peoria as well as provide routes to other cities and towns in Illinois.

This local guide will provide an overview of the major roadways in Peoria, highlighting the key routes, characteristics, and history of the city’s transportation infrastructure.

Main Highways

Interstate 74

  • Runs east-west through Peoria, connecting the city with Bloomington-Normal to the east and Galesburg to the west.
  • Main link between Peoria and Interstate 55 which runs south to Springfield and north to Chicago.
  • Portions of I-74 through Peoria are elevated due to frequent flooding of the Illinois River.
  • Exits in Peoria include War Memorial Drive, Murray Baker Bridge, Main Street, and Route 6.
  • I-74 provides an expressway connection to major Peoria destinations like downtown, the medical district, and Caterpillar headquarters.

Interstate 474

  • Forms a loop around the outskirts of Peoria.
  • Provides access from I-74 to suburban areas like Peoria Heights and Bartonville.
  • Notable exits include Allen Road, Knoxville Avenue, Sterling Avenue, and Route 6.
  • Used to bypass downtown Peoria for travelers heading between Bloomington and western destinations.
  • Features some of the area’s highest bridges, including the Shade-Lohmann Overpass.

Arterial Roads

War Memorial Drive

  • Major 6-lane artery running from downtown Peoria northeast towards the outskirts of town.
  • Named in honor of veterans of World Wars I and II.
  • Home to civic landmarks like the Peoria Civic Center and the Gateway Building.
  • Exit off I-74 leading to downtown Peoria.
  • Continues northeast as Route 91 past the city limits.

Main Street

  • Historic north-south route through the heart of Peoria.
  • Begins at the Illinois River and runs north past City Hall through residential neighborhoods.
  • Main Street north of War Memorial Drive designated as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Site of several parades and festivals in Peoria, especially during the holiday season.
  • Exit off I-74 provides access to central Peoria destinations.

Knoxville Avenue

  • Diagonal artery running southwest from downtown through southern parts of the city.
  • Home to retail destinations like The Shoppes at Grand Prairie.
  • Continues beyond the city limits towards Knoxville and Galesburg.
  • Named after Knoxville, IL which was an early 19th century rival to Peoria.

Sterling Avenue

  • Begins northeast of downtown and angles southwest terminating at Knoxville Ave.
  • Forms eastern boundary of much of Peoria’s central neighborhoods.
  • Location of major health care facilities like Methodist and Proctor Hospitals.
  • Also home to Bradley University and associated amenities.
  • Exit off I-474 allows quick access from suburbs into central Peoria.

Allen Road

  • Northern arterial road beginning at intersection with Knoxville Ave.
  • Heads due west through working class neighborhoods towards Mapleton.
  • Location of retail complexes like Allen Road Marketplace.
  • Provides access from I-474 into industrial areas west of downtown.
  • Named after early Peoria settler John Allen

Route 6

  • Winding state highway passing through western parts of Peoria.
  • Begins at Murray Baker Bridge and heads west through Bartonville towards Lacon.
  • Exit off I-474 serves as main entrance to Wildlife Prairie Park.
  • Portions are named W. Hampton Ave. and W. Nebraska Ave. within city limits.

Route 91

  • State highway designation for northeast continuation of War Memorial Drive.
  • Heads towards Morton and East Peoria beyond Peoria’s northern limit.
  • Location of Northwoods Mall, one of the region’s major shopping centers.

Major Bridges

Murray Baker Bridge

  • Iconic through arch bridge over the Illinois River.
  • Connects downtown Peoria with East Peoria.
  • Main link between western Peoria and I-74 eastbound.
  • Named after Murray Baker, former state senator and mayor of Peoria.
  • Features decorative pylon towers at each end.
  • Opened in 1957 replacing an earlier swing bridge span.

Cedar Street Bridge

  • Steel tied arch bridge crossing the Illinois River.
  • Connects the southern end of Peoria with East Peoria.
  • Carries Route 8/116/150 over the river.
  • Built in the 1950s as part of the state highway network.
  • Decorative lighting illuminates the arches at night.

Shade-Lohmann Bridge

  • Segmental concrete box girder bridge along I-474.
  • Highest bridge in Peoria with 170 foot tall piers.
  • Provides elevated crossing of farmland prone to flooding.
  • Opened in 1987 replacing previous steel truss bridge.
  • Named after two IDOT district engineers.

Bob Michel Bridge

  • Extradosed bridge along I-474 crossing the Illinois River.
  • Connects Peoria Heights and East Peoria.
  • Main gateway for residents of Peoria Heights into downtown.
  • Opened in 2012 replacing older steel bridge.
  • Named after local congressman Bob Michel.

Neighborhood Streets

In addition to the major arterial roads and highways, Peoria contains an extensive grid network of residential streets, typically named after notable locals. Here are some of the most prominent neighborhood roadways:

Sheridan Road

  • Located in central Peoria between Main Street and University Street.
  • Runs through the historic West Bluff neighborhood.
  • Lots of preserved homes from the late 19th/early 20th centuries.
  • Named after Civil War general Philip Sheridan who lived in Peoria in the 1850s.

Bigelow Street

  • Located between Main Street and Knoxville Ave in southern Peoria.
  • Part of the historic South Side neighborhood settled by German immigrants.
  • Features mansions built by early industrial leaders of Peoria.
  • Named after early Peoria settler Asahel Bigelow.

Prospect Road

  • Runs through the north end neighborhoods near Route 91.
  • Developed in the post-war housing boom of the 1950s/60s.
  • Schools like Richwoods High School located off Prospect Rd.
  • Known for windy, hilly terrain compared to flatter parts of Peoria.

Gale Avenue

  • Located in Peoria Heights paralleling Prospect Ave.
  • Developed as streetcar suburbs in early 20th century.
  • Architectural mix of Victorian, Craftsman, and Tudor homes.
  • Part of the Old Peoria Heights historic district.
  • Named after George Gale, an early Peoria Heights settler.

Nebraska Avenue

  • Runs east-west through working class neighborhoods of southern Peoria.
  • Mix of early 20th century homes along with newer infill.
  • Location of Madison Park and Whittier Primary School.
  • Forms western border of Glen Oak Park.

Historic Streets

Many of Peoria’s oldest neighborhoods feature brick paved streets that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. These historic streets provide a glimpse into Peoria’s past growth and represent part of the city’s heritage. Examples include:

Hamilton Boulevard

  • Runs diagonally through central Peoria near downtown.
  • Lined by historic homes and apartment buildings.
  • Much of the original brick pavement remains intact.
  • Part of the West Bluff Historic District.

Frye Avenue

  • Located in the South Side between Main and South St.
  • Brick street dated to around 1915.
  • Bordered by large Victorian and Queen Anne homes.
  • Terra cotta tiling creates decorative patterns at intersections.

Morgan Street

  • Short residential street north of downtown.
  • Unusual fan pattern street layout.
  • Lined by Italianate row houses dating to the 1870s.
  • Remnants of brick gutters still visible.

Armstrong Avenue

  • Runs east-west through working class neighborhoods near downtown.
  • Dates to around 1910.
  • Classic red brick paving adds vintage appeal.
  • Part of the Harrison Homes Historic District.

Perry Avenue

  • Located northwest of downtown near Hale Memorial Cemetery.
  • Lined by historic worker cottages and small homes.
  • Brick paving gives a glimpse of late 19th century Peoria.

Notable Street Features

Beyond just transportation routes, many of Peoria’s streets contain unique landmarks that reflect the history and character of the city:

Grandview Drive

  • Winds along the bluffs high above the Illinois River north of downtown.
  • Known for spectacular views of the river valley.
  • Location of the Grand View Drive Park Lookout.
  • Stairway connects neighborhood to Riverfront Museum below.

University Street

  • Home to streetcar tracks dating to the early 20th century. Metal “trolley poles” still stand along the route.
  • Tracks head south from War Memorial Drive through central Peoria.
  • Remnant of the extensive streetcar network that once served the city.

Hale Memorial Cemetery

  • Historic cemetery dating to the 1850s located between University and Perry.
  • Grave markers visible above retaining wall bordering University Street.
  • Prominent burial place for many of Peoria’s founding families.

Forest Hill Cemetery

  • Located along Knoxville Avenue on a hilltop site in southern Peoria.
  • Stately entrance gatehouse featuring stone archway over road.
  • Winding drives offer scenic views of the cemetery landscape.

Route 91

  • Section near Allen Rd contains segment of old Route 66 alignment.
  • Vintage stenciled concrete sign marks historic Route 66.
  • Served as original path of Route 66 entering Peoria from the north.

Cedar Street

  • Home of the Peoria Players Theater neon sign, a city landmark.
  • Vintage theater marquee dates to the 1940s.
  • Iconic Peoria sign visible when crossing the river on Route 116.

Traffic and Construction Issues

With an older infrastructure prone to deterioration, many of Peoria’s streets experience periodic construction and traffic delays:

Road Closures

  • Temporary full closures of streets for reconstruction and underground utility work. Knoxville Ave and Sheridan Rd have seen recent long-term closures.

Lane Restrictions

  • Partial closures of lanes for resurfacing and maintenance. Main St, War Memorial Dr, and I-474 routinely have lane restrictions.

Railroad Crossings

  • Many at-grade crossings with frequent train traffic causing temporary closures. Most issue along Route 6, Allen Rd, and Cedar St.

Rush Hour Congestion

  • Heavy traffic during morning/evening commute times. Most prone along I-474, Knoxville Ave, Allen Rd, and arterials near river bridges.

Flooding

  • Heavy rain can cause temporary closures of roads in low-lying areas near the Illinois River and creeks. Mainly affects Route 6, Riverside Dr, and parts of downtown.

Winter Weather

  • Ice, snow, and low temperatures lead to hazardous travel conditions on many roads. Allen Rd, Knoxville Ave and I-474 most vulnerable.

Future Street Plans

To improve mobility and safety, Peoria has several street projects in development:

  • War Memorial Drive expansion – Plans to widen to 8 lanes north of I-74 to Route 91. Would add extra capacity to congested arterial.
  • New river bridge – Proposals for a new bridge across the Illinois River, potentially connecting Riverfront Museum to I-474 via Murray Baker Bridge. Would divert traffic off congested arterials.
  • Downtown revitalization – Projects to make the downtown streetscape more pedestrian/bike friendly while maintaining access for deliveries and transit. May include lane reductions, curb extensions, and designated bike lanes on Main St, Washington St and Adams St.
  • Knoxville Avenue redesign – Plan to add landscaped medians, buffered bike lanes, pedestrian crossings and other features to make Knoxville Ave safer and more multimodal friendly.
  • Traffic light coordination – Ongoing effort to synchronize traffic signals to improve traffic flow along major routes like War Memorial Dr, Main St, and University St.
  • Railroad crossing upgrades – Identifying intersections for potential bridges/underpasses to eliminate at-grade conflicts between trains and vehicles. Allen Rd, Route 6, and Cedar St crossings top priorities.
  • Residential traffic calming – Installing traffic circles, speed humps, curb extensions and other features in neighborhoods to slow speeds and improve safety along residential streets.

Conclusion

Peoria offers an expansive street grid with connections throughout the city and surrounding region. From the highways funneling traffic around the city, to the arterial roads linking neighborhoods together, to the brick-paved local routes with historic charm, Peoria’s streets tell the story of the city’s heritage and provide the key corridors supporting transportation and commerce. While ongoing maint

enance and future enhancements will be needed, the basic framework of Peoria’s road network seems likely to remain serving the community for generations to come.

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  • Head east on E Orchard Ave toward S Powerline Rd. The destination will be on your right just past S Elder St. Look for the green house with white trim. If you reach the intersection with S Fern St, you’ve gone too far. The total drive is approximately 0.2 miles from S Powerline Rd.
  • From downtown Nampa, take 3rd St S heading south. Turn right onto E Roosevelt Ave and continue for 1.8 miles. Turn left onto S Elder St and drive 0.1 miles until you reach E Orchard Ave. Take a right onto E Orchard Ave. The green house with white trim will be on your right just after turning.
  • Take I-84 W towards Nampa. Take exit 38 for Franklin Blvd toward Nampa/Caldwell. Turn right onto Franklin Blvd and drive 3.2 miles. Turn left onto E Orchard Ave and continue for 0.9 miles. The destination is the green house with white trim on the right just past S Elder St. The total drive from I-84 is approximately 4.5 miles.