Planners: Illiana Expressway will close only two north-south crossroads
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent May 13, 2013 8:36PM
Updated: May 14, 2013 10:59AM
Only two north-south roads now will be closed for the proposed Illiana Expressway.
Monday, planners of the Illiana Corridor announced they have reduced the number of expected north-south road closures in Indiana from five to two in an alternative for Lake County residents. The highway will cross 13 north-south roads along its path that will run approximately along 163rd Street in between Cedar Lake and Lowell.
Marshall and Harrison streets now are the only two roads slated for closure. A third road, Sheffield Avenue, will be rerouted as a frontage road, according to Jim Earl, project manager of the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Local land-use planning will continue, allowing for communities to adapt for the future. The plans for the interchanges remain the same, with three in Indiana located at Interstate 65, Indiana 55, and U.S. 41.
“We spent some time working together with Lake County, local emergency service providers, the Tri-Creek school district, as well as the sheriff and police departments, to meet the middle on what was safe, feasible and affordable for the community,” Earl said.
“We also met with the Indiana Farm Bureau to identify current routes for agricultural equipment,” he continued.
The number of anticipated road closures has been a sore spot for South Lake County residents, who have feared closures would impede access to emergency services, lengthen school bus travel times, which in some cases are currently 90 minutes and impact farmers’ abilities to work their land.
Earl said the decision to reduce the closures was based on all the comments, suggestions and information planners had received and after analysis by the project team.
Patricia Mussman, with No Illiana 4 Us, said the news was welcome but the group still opposes the current path the road will take.
“They are moving in the right direction as far as keeping the roads open but they are still not moving in the right direction as far as moving the road,” Mussman said.
She said the group is concerned about the number of homes and properties that will be lost to the interchanges and overpasses, and the impact it will have on farmers’ businesses.
There are also a number of environmental issues Mussman said it does not appear planners have taken into consideration with the B3 route. The group favors a northern route or the no-build option. Mussman said No Illiana 4 Us has been taking its case to environmental groups in Washington D.C. and the response has been encouraging.