Illiana Expressway route opinions wanted at Lowell hearing
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent July 28, 2012 7:48PM
Updated: August 30, 2012 6:23AM
Residents will get another chance to have their opinions heard about the location of the proposed Illiana Expressway on Wednesday during a public hearing at Lowell Middle School.
The forum, hosted by the Illinois and Indiana departments of transportation, will give residents a chance to provide additional input on the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement and have those opinions become part of the public record.
“We need to pack the house,” said Lowell Town Councilman Craig Earley, D-1.
Earley said residents need to have their opinions heard about whether they would prefer either the route south or north of Lowell or no road at all. He encouraged those who attend to be respectful and organized so their voices are heard.
Earley said both the northern and southern routes have negative ramifications for residents and property owners and emergency services. At this time, he said, he is not in favor of the highway.
The Lowell Town Council has come out against the proposed northern route for myriad reasons instead supporting the southern route. Twenty north-south roads will be bisected by the preferred B-3 or northern route and no indication has been made as to which of those roads will remain open. Earley said closure of any of the roads would greatly impact resident safety and the speed at which police, fire and emergency medical services are able to respond to calls. It would also negatively impact bus services for Tri-Creek School Corp.
He said officials also recently began taking steps to annex land south of the town to further industrial and commercial growth. A southern route would promote that effort.
Both the northern and southern routes could have a potential impact on the town’s sewer and water facilities. The northern route bisects the equalization basin, a storm water retention area, between Cedar Lake and Lowell. The southern route crosses the town’s water tower and well fields.
“My personal opinion, I can’t see the benefit to Indiana and our community long-term. I believe the impact outweighs the benefit,” Earley said.
He is not alone in his concerns. Residents in the Moriah subdivision fear the northern route would claim or negatively impact their homes. There are 55 homes in a one mile radius of Moriah in the path of the B-3 route. While the 2,000-foot corridor will be whittled down to about 300 feet when a final route is decided, the homes that are not lost will be in the shadow of an expressway.
Don Carnahan and Ted Gross have been working to educate their neighbors and raise awareness about the proposal. They, too, would like to see residents come out in force to voice their opinions one way or the other.
“What we want them to do is show up at the meeting and show they do not want it to come down the proposed B3 route,” Gross said.
He said along with the impact to their homes, like Earley they fear the impact on public safety and do not believe they have gotten enough information or answers to their questions that a route could be selected. The pair say it is important people come out and make their views part of the public record.
“The more people there, maybe we will stop it. We just don’t know. You can’t just say it’s all politics, you can’t do anything about it. We have our rights to express our feelings,” Gross said.
The Tier 1 Draft EIS is a compilation of stakeholder outreach and evaluation results of three proposed corridors — A3S2, B3 and B4 — and the “no build” alternative carried forward for further studies. After extensive data analysis and evaluation, the Tier 1 Draft EIS is available for public review and comment at www.illianacorridor.org.
The public hearing will be an open house format conducted from 5 to 8 p.m. A public forum will take place at 6 p.m. A continuous PowerPoint presentation will be offered and the public may review the Tier 1 Draft EIS, the alternative and real estate acquisition procedures. They can also ask questions, share their views and submit comments. Attendees are encouraged to provide oral or written testimony to a court reporter or participate during the public comment session. Attendees also may speak with IDOT, INDOT and the study team representatives on an individual basis. The session will take place at Lowell Middle School, 19250 Cline Ave., from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, with the public forum at 6 p.m.