Illinois drops one proposed Illiana route
BY BOB OKON Sun-Times Media October 17, 2012 9:48AM
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:07PM
WILMINGTON, Ill. — Judy Radosevich looks out from her back deck and sees a cornfield nearby and the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in the distance, a view that someday may be dominated by the Illiana Expressway.
“We have the most beautiful sunsets,” Radosevich said, accepting the likelihood that semitrailers on the expressway will become a big part of the view someday.
“It’s going to come whether we like it or not,” she said. “It’s just a matter of where they’re going to stick it.”
Radosevich is the city clerk in Wilmington, a city that has showed no enthusiasm for the plan to build the expressway as an alternative east-west route between Interstate 55 in Illinois and Interstate 65 in Indiana.
Advocates for the expressway see it as a boon to transportation and a potential stimulus for economic development. Cities and villages have voiced their support for one of the various three routes that were suggested for the road.
Most local governments backed the route that would run behind Radosevich’s house in the Water’s Edge subdivision, a rural neighborhood of upscale homes built around a man-made lake that has been used for national waterskiing contests.
The Wilmington City Council, though, cast its vote for what’s called the “no-build” option, which, as it sounds, means don’t build the expressway at all.
No-build is still an option.
But the Illinois Department of Transportation said this month that if the Illiana Expressway is built, it will be built along the route that runs along the north edge of Wilmington.
That was good news for many.
“It’s great news,” said John Greuling, chief executive for the Will County Center for Economic Development. “They picked a corridor we liked, and they did it in a very timely fashion.”
Grueling said work on the Illiana Expressway is moving at a good pace, which makes him “optimistic” that a final decision on the project could come in 11/2 years.
Illinois state Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, represents a district just north of where the selected route runs. He opposed another route that would have run through his district. The northern route would have been more costly, he said, because it would have required building a bridge over the Des Plaines River. It also was vigorously opposed by the village of Channahon, which stood to lose homes and access to I-55.
The final corridor is expected to be identified in January, when the pathway will be narrowed from 2,000 feet wide to 400 feet wide.
Ted Gross, a resident of the Moriah subdivision in unincorporated Lake County near Lowell, has been mounting a grass roots effort in Indiana.
Depending on the final route, the highway could force the draining of a lake in Moriah or put the quiet bedroom subdivision in the shadow of the expressway, Gross said.
“Why, sure we are angry. Doggone it, everybody is objecting to it,” he said
Gross said the turnout at the most recent public meeting on the highway at Lowell Middle School indicated just how much south Lake County residents do not want the highway, no matter which route is selected.
“I can’t blame the farmers complaining about the route south of Lowell. I don’t think they can complain about us fighting up here too,” Gross said, adding there are a lot of homes in the proposed path he does not believe INDOT has taken into consideration.
“You might say we are all on pins and needles here, that’s a definite,” Gross said of learning the final route.
Carrie Napoleon contributed.