This map shows how the proposed Illiana Expressway will disrupt the flow of water in drains in South Lake County. | Photo Provided~Sun-Times Media
CROWN POINT — It isn’t often that Lake County Democrats and Republicans come together on the same side of an issue, but that is what took place the last Wednesday of February.
It was at a technical meeting on the proposed Illiana Expressway that will disrupt the flow of water in the storm water drains in south Lake County and end north-south transportation on many of the county’s small roads.
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub said the current Illiana proposal would endanger the safety of the citizens, police, firefighters, ambulance crews, school bus passengers and highway department employees. Many of the small country roads would not be able to withstand the additional traffic that would result in the closing of other north-south roads, he said.
Scheub said project managers want to close seven out of 12 north-south routes between Interstate 65 and the Illinois boarder.
In the past Scheub felt that there had been no local representation in state leadership on the Illiana issue. Now with Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-11th, in attendance at this meeting, perhaps that could change, but he is still the new kid on the block in Indianapolis.
Filling his post on the Lake County Council, Eldon Strong, R-7th, can now join with Niemeyer and tell these designers how expensive fire, ambulance services are to townships.
Dan Murchek, representing Lake County Sheriff John Buncich, told the planners that with the exception of the town of Lowell, “We are the only law enforcement for all of this area. This is all under the sheriff of Lake County. Closing roads will create long waits. It is not just five minutes; it could cause a delay of 20 to 25 minutes to answer a call with extra officers. Things can go bad real fast with that kind of a scenario.”
Also at issue at this gathering was interruption of the regulated drains as well as the non-regulated drains that keep south Lake County from major flood problems. If these drains are stopped it could change the topography of Lake County. Most of these regulated and unregulated drains are above ground in streams and ditches.
If the road is not engineered correctly it could be highly destructive, according to Lake County Surveyor George Van Til.
Strong said, “I think the big issue here is that I do not see the benefit for our community. I see the potential immediate benefit for Illinois (traffic relief) and a future benefit of an airport (in Peotone).”