Commentary: Andrew Steele: Illiana meeting to discuss southside development
June 11, 2013 11:44AM
Updated: June 11, 2013 1:13PM
The Indiana and Illinois departments of transportation will hold public meetings on the Illiana Expressway next week.
The Indiana meeting is 5 to 8 P.m. Monday, June 17 at Lowell Middle School, 19250 Cline Ave. The Illinois meeting is the same time Tuesday, June 18, at Peotone High School, 605 W. North St., Peotone, Ill.
The preferred route, labelled B3, would run from Interstae 55 near Wilmington, Ill., to Interstate 65 near Cedar Lake.
According to the Illiana Corridor Team: “The meetings will be an open house format, and interested persons may attend anytime between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. There will be a continuous PowerPoint presentation, and attendees will have the opportunity to view study exhibits and speak with IDOT, INDOT and study team representatives on a one-on-one basis. A question and answer forum will be held at 6 p.m. each day.”
The Illiana announcement includes language about minimizing disruption on local communities, but the officials planning the road have clearly moved to addressing management of growth once the road is built. Opponents perhaps haven’t given up on preventing it, but at this point, if the funding’s there, you have to assume it’s going to happen.
The big question is, does it stop there? Early on planners gave up on sending the expressway east, then, north, to make a full bypass around Interstate 80/94’s passage through urban areas. But if the short leg from I-65 to I-55 makes sense, the larger one would seem to as well.
That’s certainly well into the future, but the general tenor of large-scale planning is in favor of “development.” The patterns tend to be the same: public officials are attuned completely to growth; local property owners — who’ve often moved to where they are because of a lack of “development” — oppose it on the grounds that it’s not needed, won’t work, and will harm their safety and well-being.
Largely, it’s two sides arguing past one another, and it’s not hard to understand why the side that almost always wins does so.
Meanwhile, the hopes of development on the Illinois side of the line tend to be much more ambitious than on the Indiana side. The proposed South Suburban Airport exited political gridlock recently when the State of Illinois decided on a management structure for the airport.
Whether it will get the financial backing it needs — the idea is to use the same sort of public-private partnership planned for the Illiana — is another question, and the airlines (and city of Chicago) will have a lot to say about it, but the conception of the area as next in line for significant growth is firmly planted.
We’ve always been the true east side of the metropolitan area, and as that area extends south in Illinois, it will here, too.