Around Illinois -- May 7

May 7, 2012
  • TV show helps nab Ponzi-scheme pair
  • High-speed rail study will move forward
  • Tollway project will link two interstates
  • Will free roads become tollways?
  • State Fair prices on the rise
  • Bank of America to face local protest

Peoria Ponzi-scheme fugitives arrested in Arizona.

After a dozen years on the run, a Peoria, Ill., couple convicted of running a Ponzi scheme have been captured in a small community west of Phoenix, Ariz.

Nelson and Janet Hallahan were arrested by U.S. deputy marshals this weekend at a rural home 50 miles west of Phoenix. They were featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted" the previous night.

The Hallahans targeted family, friends and elderly victims by promising significant returns on investments. They also defrauded investors by selling interests in a tanning salon they later sold without telling investors.

The couple pleaded guilty in Illinois federal court to bank and mail fraud conspiracy charges and money laundering. They didn't show up for their sentencing and have been fugitives ever since.

Illinois, Indiana and Michigan to Move Forward on Critical Midwest High Speed Rail Study

Three states to move forward on high-speed rail

Illinois, Indiana and Michigan have agreed to move forward with a comprehensive study on reducing rail congestion and letting trains achieve higher speeds along the Chicago-to-Detroit high-speed rail corridor.

The study, to be funded through a $3.2 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration and $200,000 each from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Norfolk Southern, aims to reduce travel times between Chicago and Detroit and move freight efficiently through the congested Chicago-to-Porter, Ind., segment, one of the nation’s busiest freight rail networks.

The Chicago-to-Detroit line is part of the Midwest Regional Rail Network, located in one of five densely populated mega-regions in need of better transportation options.

More than 100 million people call the Midwest region home, the vast majority living within 500 miles of the Chicago rail hub.

Tri-State interchange project gets underway

Work begins this week on the $719 million project to connect the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) and I-57, one of only two points in the nation where interstates cross but do not connect,

The first phase will create access from northbound I-57 to northbound I-294 and southbound I-294 to southbound I-57, including a new interchange at 147th Street. These improvements are scheduled to be completed in 2014.

As part of the work, the I-294 bridges over 147th Street will be completely rebuilt and widened to accommodate construction of a northbound entrance ramp to I-294 from I-57 and a southbound exit ramp from I-294 to 147th Street, as well as the reconstruction and widening of 147th Street.

The full interchange is expected to be completed in 2024.

… and speaking of tollways

The Illinois Toll Highway Authority is moving forward to extend the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway east to the airport, where they'll also build a western bypass, and taking a look at extending Illinois 53 north into Lake County – and charging tolls on both roads, which currently are free.

Marni Pyke takes a look at the controversial proposals, including the steps required to convert the free roads into part of the toll system, in the Daily Herald.

Prices going up at the Illinois State Fair

It will cost more to go to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield this August. Fair officials last hiked admission in 2009 to help offset a loss of state funding. That's the reason for the latest increase as well. 

Fair Director Amy Bliefnick says adults will pay $2 more (a total of $7) to enter the fairgrounds. Children and seniors will pay $3 … that’s a dollar more. Bliefnick says the decision was necessary after state funding for the fair was cut by about $400,000. She expects no impact on attendance.

"The national average for adults is $9.05,” Bliefnick said. “We will still be below the national average on adults. Senior citizens, the average is about $6.50. With $3 for seniors, we're way below the national average for seniors." 

Bliefnick also announced the grandstand lineup will include country stars Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Charlie Daniels, pop acts Demi Lovato and Train, and rock groups Creed and Rockford-based Cheap Trick

Bank of America protest will go local

Members of will host a local protest Wednesday outside the Bank of America branch in Rockford to recognize activists who will be protesting and taking direct action at Bank of America’s annual shareholder meeting Charlotte, N.C., the same day.

Organizers of the protest say they will demand that big banks like Bank of America do more to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, get their money out of politics, and invest their profits to help rebuild the economy.

The protest will take place on 12:15 p.m. Wednesday at the northwest corner of Springcreek and Perryville Roads in Rockford.