With days being checked off the calendar bringing a decision from the Federal Highway Administration on the Illiana Expressway closer, residents objections to the project are becoming more desperate.
Many appear to be coming to the realization that their protests and reasoning are failing to make an impact on those who will make the decision.
That was the scene that played out Wednesday during a public hearing on the proposed expressway held in Wilmington regarding the $1.3 billion project that will connect Interstate 55 with Interstate 65 in Indiana.
The Illinois Department of Transportation hosted the hearing. A similar hearing was held by Indiana DOT officials earlier this week in Lowell, Ind.
One such person was Washington Township’s Ray Blomberg, who lives along Stony Island Road in eastern Will County and in path of the proposed 47-mile highway that would connect Illinois Interstates 55 and 57 to Indiana’s Interstate 65.
Not only does Blomberg, 64, live in a house that would be demolished to clear the path for the highway, but so does his 91-year-old mother, Jessie.
“Where would we go? That’s a good question,” he said. “We don’t have a place to go. I never envisioned this happening.”
Several miles west in Wilmington, David Dodd, who’s general manager for Miken Transportation, at Illinois Route 53 and New River Road, one of five businesses that will have to be relocated, said he didn’t know what good his on-the-record objection would be, but he wanted them known.
Similar to many that have stated before him, Dodd said truckers will not use the road. He said they will find routes where tolls don’t need to be fed. “I wanted to be able to say my piece,” he said.
Roads that will be blocked by the highway’s path include Ridgeland Avenue and Egyptian Trail, both east of Peotone; Crawford and Western avenues, between Beecher and Peotone; 88th Avenue, west of Peotone; Indian Trail Road and 17th Avenue, west of Old Chicago Road; and Stony Island Avenue and Klemme Road, both just west of the Indiana-Illinois border.
Officials note that 70 percent of the roads that intersect with the highway will not remain open.
The Tier 2 Draft Environmental Impact Study, for which Wednesday’s hearing was held to gain additional comments, likely will not gain final approval until May, noted Illinois Department of Transportation project manager Steve Schilke.
The hearing drew a crowd of about 300.
If the project is approved by the IDOT, its Indiana counterpart and the Federal Highway Administration, land acquisition would begin this summer and take 18 to 24 months to complete.
Assuming that stays on course, actual construction wouldn’t begin until 2015. In all, the $1.5-billion highway would take three years to complete.
The route of the highway under consideration begins just west of Wilmington at I-55 at Illinois 129 and runs mostly straight east to I-65 between 153rd and 163rd streets near Cedar Lake, Ind.
Full story here.
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