Which crossroads stay open key question for Illiana Expressway planning
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent February 27, 2013 5:40PM
Updated: February 28, 2013 4:17PM
CROWN POINT — Impact of the proposed Illiana Expressway on north-south access roads continues to be a key concern for Lake County officials as the Tier II study on the project moves forward.
At this stage of the study, seven of the county’s 12 north-south roads are slated to be cut off by the expressway, though that number is fluid as input is gathered from officials as the study moves forward, said Jim Earl, Illiana project manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Earl and members from his team Wednesday appeared before county department heads and some elected officials including State Rep. Rick Niemeyer to begin the process of gathering that input and learning how the B-3 route would impact services and development as they move forward with narrowing the 2,000-foot corridor to the actual 400-foot path of the expressway.
“We oppose any road closings,” said Dan Murchek, Lake County Sheriff’s Department deputy chief.
Murchek said the department would prefer all access roads remain open, but said he understands that is not likely. Murchek said the department wants to make sure emergency services are impacted as little as possible.
Impact on emergency services from response time to staffing and equipment for Tri-Creek EMS, which has four employees and only two ambulances, were among key concerns.
County Surveyor George Van Til said the expressway also will cross six legal county drains and 10 unregistered drains and if the crossings are not handled properly, flooding could become a problem.
Van Til and his department will map the proposal with the county’s new geographic information system, overlaying data about the drains, road crossings and development plans among other details to help officials better plan for the impact.
“I have to look at this in terms of if this goes I want it to be the best it can be,” Van Til said.
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, D-Crown Point, continued his adamant opposition to the expressway and the closure of any of the roads.
Interchanges are proposed at U.S. 41, Indiana 55 and Interstate 65. Initial roads expected to remain open are Parrish, Morse and Mount streets with Marshall on the bubble, INDOT spokesman Jim Pinkerton said. Early plans based on economics alone also call for closing Broadway, Mississippi and Harrison streets, something Pinkerton said INDOT already knows is not possible.
Previous input from officials and emergency responders also has indicated county officials would prefer to see Holtz remain open as opposed to Mount, Pinkerton said. It is that type of input INDOT hopes to continue to glean from stakeholders, including county officials, schools and emergency services and land owners as plans become more specific.
Earl said stakeholder meetings will continue with property owners and county officials throughout the spring. Public meetings will take place in April and early summer and will be followed by the final public hearing in the fall.
Earl said he expects a decision by the end of the year on whether the state will move forward with the B-3 route or the no-build option. If the B-3 route is moved forward over the no-build option, the earliest construction could begin would be 2015.