Illiana opponents hit the gas on ‘no build’ option
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent April 18, 2013 9:54PM
Updated: April 19, 2013 11:30AM
LOWELL — Residents in favor of the proposed Illiana highway were in short supply Thursday at the first public information session for the project’s Tier Two study.
Opponents from Indiana and Illinois have joined forces to form No Illiana 4 Us and were out in force passing out signs and stickers and encouraging those who attended to sign a petition against the project.
“What we are trying to do is make sure we get the ‘no build’ option,” Patricia Mussman, organizer of the group on Indiana’s side of the state line. Mussman is married to West Creek Township Trustee Harold Mussman who also opposes the roadway.
Representatives from the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Transportation met with residents at Lowell Middle School to share the latest information on the project being done in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration.
The Tier Two study began earlier this year and is advancing what was determined to be the preferred route, B-3, that runs approximately along 163rd Avenue between Lowell and Cedar Lake from Interstate 65 in Indiana to Interstate 55 in Illinois and a “no build” option.
During the course of the Tier Two study, the exact 400-foot-wide path for the highway will be carved from the current 2,000-foot corridor, environmental studies will be conducted and details such as what north-south roads will remain open and where interchanges will be located will be finalized. Also a financial plan to pay for the project will be drafted.
Public input will be taken again in the summer and a public hearing will take place in the fall once the final path is determined. A record of decision determining whether B-3 or no build will go forward could come late 2013 or early 2014.
Mussman said planners continue to ignore what residents affected by the highway on both sides of the state line want — no highway. Closure of any of the 15 north-south roads on the Indiana side at the highway will delay emergency responders and add significant time to school bus routes that are already long.
She said property values will be negatively impacted and prime farmland, some that has been in the same family for 100 years and more, will be lost.
Jim Surprenant of Beecher, Ill., is one of the farmers who will be significantly impacted by the Illiana, which slices through his land. He attended the meeting with his friend Linda Kampe of Lowell. The roadway will come close to her wooded backyard and she worries about the noise.
“I moved to the country to get away from all that,” she said.