ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Construction on Rockford’s Hard Rock Casino is halfway done. The city is preparing for the expected increase in traffic around the area.

“There will be six turn lanes coming into the entrance,” said Brent Johnson, CEO of Ringland-Johnson Construction. “There will be a giant guitar, one of Rick Nieldsen’s checkerboard guitars, that will be taller than the building that people will want to come from all over and take their picture by.

Improvements include a multi-use path, widening East State Street, the addition of turn lanes, and lighting.

“This multi-use path will allow people of any mode of transportation, whether it’s a bicycle, pedestrian, driver or even mass transit, to access the casino from the City of Rockford,” said Tim Hinkens, city engineer for the City of Rockford.

Funds from the state are helping with this investment into the city. Monday night, Rockford City Council passed a development agreement. Now, a $2 million entertainment grant from the state will come up for consideration in the next few weeks.

“The casino is eligible and is getting awarded $2 million to fund roadway widening and intersection improvements at the casino that are needed for the additional traffic it’s going to bring in,” said Hinkens.

The casino will be responsible for any cost exceeding that amount.

The 25-acre project will have restaurants, entertainment, and a concert venue. There’s lots of excitement around the economic impact it will have.

“This will attract tourism dollars to Rockford and Winnebago County from all over, I think, the world,” said Johnson. “Because people from Japan follow Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, for example. We’re just so thankful that the city agreed to be the middleman, so to speak, between the state and this project.”

Work is expected to be completed in late August 2024.