Rep. Demmer to host dedication of Illinois Route 251 overpass in Rochelle in memory of late Sen. Jack Roe

Judge Jack Roe, 1942-2020.

State Representative Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, and Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows invite area residents to attend the dedication of the Sen. John B. “Jack” Roe Overpass along Illinois Route 251 to be held in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Transportation at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 27. Guests attending the ceremony are invited to park in public lot 3 at the corner of N 6th Street and 4th Avenue across from the Flagg-Rochelle Public Library, or any nearby street parking.

“Jack Roe dedicated his career to serving people in Ogle County and the State of Illinois as a prosecutor, public defender, school board member, state circuit judge and in the General Assembly,” Rep. Demmer said. “His legacy includes many achievements, among one of the most notable being his successful efforts to obtain funding to build the much-needed overpass in Rochelle prior to the existence of I-39. It is truly a privilege to celebrate the dedication of this overpass in memory of Jack Roe with members of his family.”

House Joint Resolution 57 to designate the Illinois Route 251 overpass in Rochelle in honor of Sen. Roe was introduced by Rep. Demmer in November 2021. The resolution was unanimously adopted by the Illinois House of Representatives on March 10 and subsequently adopted by the State Senate on April 9, where it was sponsored by State Sen. Brian Stewart, R-Freeport.

In the 1970s, Sen. Roe sponsored and passed legislation to secure the necessary funds for the first leg of the North-South Freeway from Rockford to the west tollway extension of Rochelle. In 1976, Sen. Roe was approached by local civic and business leaders to obtain assistance and funding to place an overpass on then-U.S. Route 51 through Rochelle.

At that time, U.S. Route 51 was the major north-south thoroughfare through Illinois. The City of Rochelle had two sets of railroad tracks, the Chicago Northwestern and Burlington Northern, with as many as 80 trains a day going through the city, creating delays of 15 to 20 minutes for each train. Consequently, Rochelle become known as ‘Jamtown’ and ‘Delaysville’ by truckers. Sen. Roe secured the necessary funding to construct the Rochelle overpass to remedy the logjam and facilitate the flow of commerce.

Sen. Roe passed away in November 2020 at the age of 78. Members of the Roe family will be in attendance for the overpass dedication ceremony along with community leaders and other officials.

For questions or more information, please call Rep. Demmer’s office at (815) 561-3690 or e-mail tom@tomdemmer.com.