Honoring the memory of a former Morgan County commissioner instrumental in expanding high-speed travel through West Central Illinois is what people gathered to do this morning west of Jacksonville.
People gathered on an overpass on Liberty Road, west of Jacksonville, overlooking U.S. Route 67 as highway workers unveiled a sign that read, “Dick Rawlings Memorial Highway.”
The Illinois Senate approved a resolution in January after it passed the House last spring. The stretch of Route 67 that has the Rawlings designation goes from Liberty Road to Interstate 72.
Rawlings served as the Chairman of the Corridor 67 committee and was a big player in expanding Route 67 to a four-lane highway locally.
Corridor 67 Chairman John Power talked about how important Rawlings was to the Central Illinois Expressway.
“He was one of the founders of the AMPS organization- many of you will remember that- Adams, Morgan, Pike, Scott, which fought for years to get the Central Illinois Expressway built, plus the bridge at Valley City. Now, those two things are also part of Dick’s legacy, and so I think today, we’ll also take the opportunity to remember him for thankfully the work he did on that,” says Power.
State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer, who hosted the ceremony, noted what motivated Rawlings to expand the highway.
“The goal was to never lose business to neighboring Missouri. That was Dick’s dream. And not long after Dick’s passing, we had that ribbon-cutting for this section of the corridor,” says Davidsmeyer.
“Everybody here knows how important this is for our region here. From north to south, the entire west portion of the state. And we know we’re off to a great start, but we have to continue the work on 67 to make sure Western Illinois is an even larger part of our state’s economy.”
State Senator Sam McCann also offered his thoughts.
“Dick Rawlings will live forever in this area because of his vision, and because of his ability to bring people together and get things done,” McCann says.
The wife of Dick Rawlings, Diane, tells us she can’t put into words what it means to have her late husband honored.
“The response after Dick’s death from everyone has just been overwhelming, and all of the support that we have had, and I know he would be very, very proud today,” Rawlings says.
Reporter: “As long as you’re driving down this highway, it’s going to be something really special to see his name on the sign?
Rawlings: “I’ll probably make a few trips out there the next few days just to see the sign.”