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Story originally published in The Daily Journal.
Though the state has already determined the amount of farmland, forest, wetland and streams that will likely be destroyed to build the 47-mile Illiana Expressway — as well as the number of remaining residents and homes standing in the way — talk at Monday’s meeting on the proposed roadway centered on one major roadblock.
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency, an influential planning group created by the state, still appears skeptical of the proposal and has yet to include the project in its 30-year plan.
“The key question is: Is this needed? The answer is yes,” said Steve Schilke, an Illiana project manager from the Illinois Department of Transportation. “This will help the [rapidly expanding] freight sector of this entire region.”
If the multibillion dollar project (just how much it will cost is under dispute) is not included in CMAP’s 2040 plan, the Illiana just might be dead on arrival. CMAP is expected to vote on the Illiana on Oct. 9.
If the project is included in the plan, the roadway would still need federal approval.
To move the amount of freight expected, a large amount of it pouring through the region due to the explosion of intermodel developments in Will County, there will be a cost above and beyond the steel and concrete needed to build a modern expressway.
According to the state’s data, the project will consume: 3,008 to 3,334 acres of farmland; 157 to 170 acres of forest; 70 to 72 acres of wetlands; and 14 to 15 miles of stream.
In addition, 36 to 63 residences will also need to be condemned as well as 109 to 145 buildings.
The numbers vary because there are still several alternate plans for the expressway that will connect Interstate 55 at Wilmington to Interstate 65 between Lowell and Cedar Lake in northwestern Indiana.
Much of the proposed roadway would run about two miles north of the Kankakee and Will County line.
While CMAP has taken issue with several points of the corridor committee’s study, Schilke remained confident.
“They are not issues we can’t overcome,” he said. “We know there are questions that still have to be answered.”
If you think you may be affected by the Illiana Expressway and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.
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