I hope our leaders do not spend any more our scarce transportation funds on the Illiana Expressway and the South Suburban Airport. Let them take no more land for these projects.
If jobs are the main objective, the STAR Line (Suburban Transit Access Route) would be a much cheaper and more reliable long-term benefit than the airport or a tollway for the people of the south suburbs.
The STAR Line would use the former EJ&E Railroad tracks that run from Indiana to Waukegan as a commuter rail line to serve about 100 suburbs.
It would greatly expand our public transportation options without the painful use of eminent domain to take working farms away from long-time owners. Commuters from the south suburbs could connect to jobs in high employment areas west and north of Chicago.
There is still time to reconsider. Neither the airport near Peotone or the Illiana Expressway have all the required permits. The five-year period of review ends on Dec. 24, but it can be extended in the public interest. At the least, the citizens of the south suburbs deserve a referendum on this issue.
The U.S. Surface Transportation Board’s approval in December 2008 of Canadian National Railway’s takeover of the EJ&E for freight operations came with certain conditions, one of which was that CN “work with Metra to explore all options for service on the proposed STAR Line, including use of the EJ&E rail line.”
One board member expressed fear that its decision could “inhibit future, much-needed commuter rail options, including the proposed STAR Line services.” If a high rate of employment and a healthy environment are the goals of our state transportation department, let’s redirect our money for the STAR Line.
Katie Felt Armstrong
Full story here.
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