Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub | Post-Tribune File Photo
Updated: February 20, 2013 6:12AM
CEDAR LAKE — Federal approval of the B-3 route of the proposed Illiana Expressway was received Thursday.
Members of the Illiana Corridor study group were in Lake County on Thursday and Friday to meet with stakeholders and discuss what the approval means as the project moves forward into the Tier II study. The B-3 route and a no-build route will be advanced in the Tier II study.
Federal approval of the record of decision means they agree with the findings of the Illiana Corridor study B-3 is the best route for the highway, Jim Earle, INDOT project manager, said.
Lake County highway, drainage and planning officials along with Commissioner Gerry Scheub, D-2, met with officials from the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Transportation in one of the sessions in a process meant to gather input on how the 2,000-foot-wide corridor would be narrowed to the finalized 400-foot-wide highway.
Earl said one of the reasons for the meetings with county officials, along with the meetings with officials from the various towns impacted and the schools and emergency service providers who serve the area, is to determine the best way to plot the final route and decide which of the 12 north-south roads will remain open.
“At this stage in the game we are gathering input,” Earl said.
Scheub told officials he and many Lake County officials remain opposed to the B-3 route. He said it was his belief the route had always been B-3 and called the public input process to this point “smoke and mirrors,” saying it really did not matter what local residents or politicians said.
Scheub said if the county is stuck with the highway he vehemently opposes any effort to close any of the north-south access roads.
“We want no north-south roads closed. If you do you’re gonna have a fight with us,” Scheub said.
Currently interchanges are planned for Interstate 65, Indiana 55 and U.S. 41. Access to the 12 additional roadways in the corridor will be finalized with information garnered from the stakeholder meetings and a series of community-input meetings that will take place in mid- to late-February.
The highway would cross State Line Road, Sheffield, White Oak, Parrish Avenue, Cline Avenue, Morris Street, Mount Street, Holtz Road, Marshall Street, Harrison Street, Broadway and Mississippi Street.
Currently the roads slated for over or underpasses are based on a cost analysis. Earl said the final determination will be based on the input from public officials and residents on how the roads are used.
Earl said all landowners in the 2,000-foot B-3 corridor will be notified within the next two weeks by mail the corridor was selected. The letter will provide information on how the process will continue along with dates for the upcoming public meetings. Landowners in the B-4 and A3S2 corridors will also receive notification those corridors are no longer under consideration.