The Weiland Road improvement project gained Buffalo Grove’s approval to move forward Monday, when trustees voted 5-1 in favor of a plan that will have the least financial impact to residents.
Their decision moves the project’s execution into the hands of Lake County Department of Transportation officials, who have said it is the only road improvement option they will support.
The total plan calls for the addition of one lane in each direction on Lake-Cook Road and Weiland Road south of Aptakisic Road to reduce traffic congestion. The plan also calls for the realignment of Short Aptakisic Road, which would be moved about 200 feet south between Buffalo Grove Road and Route 83 in an effort to reduce cut-through traffic in commercial parking lots and improve safety.
Additionally, it includes the construction of a new road that would connect Weiland Road to Prairie Road north of Aptakisic Road. That road is expected to reduce traffic on Aptakisic by providing a new route for northbound and southbound drivers who currently head east or west on Aptakisic to navigate the area.
While the plan, recommended by engineering firm CivilTech and various governmental agencies, is projected to cost about $40.4 million to complete, the vast majority of the expense is expected to be covered by county and federal funds. Buffalo Grove will shoulder about $1.5 million of the total cost, most of which it paid during the first phase of the study.
The balance, about $500,000, can be covered the village, officials said earlier this month. If the amount was instead added to the property tax levy, it would amount to a one-time $3.20 expense for the owner of a home with a $300,000 market value, according to Buffalo Grove’s finance director, Scott Anderson.
If the village selected an alternative option, Buffalo Grove would have led the project and funded it with bonds that would be passed on to property taxpayers.
Trustee Beverly Sussman, who initially expressed concern Monday that the new road would draw more traffic to the area, later supported the plan.
“I could not ask the residents of Buffalo Grove to pay $121.30 for 18 years if the road was not done for us as opposed to paying $3.20 for one year, so really for me that swings the whole vote,” she said.
Trustee Andy Stein, who dissented in what he called “a protest vote,” said he thought there should have been further discussion about one of the alternative plans designed by the engineering firm earlier in the process.
“I’m not going to vote to cost the residents of the Village Buffalo Grove the full expense of what this road will cost to rebuild. I’ve had some issues with the process that’s been involved,” he said, adding that Monday was the first time he’d heard that the Lake County had objected to an alternative version of the plan that would have widened Weiland and Aptakisic roads without building the connector road.
“As long as there was an option listed by CivilTech that would have qualified for federal funds, I would have at least liked to have had a discussion about it. And that’s all that the residents are asking for, a discussion,” he said.
About half a dozen opponents to the plan lined up Monday to voice their concerns for the final time before the matter was put to a vote.
Among them was Jack Schneiderman, who lives at the corner of Newtown Drive and Weiland Road.
“Yes, Weiland Road can be crowded at peak times, but most of the time it is OK. I can’t imagine how it will be if you make Weiland Road four lanes. I think four lanes will make this a nightmare,” he said.
“It will destroy the residential nature of our neighborhood,” he said.
Trustee Lester Ottenheimer acknowledged that the decision was a difficult one.
“This is where our job becomes increasingly difficult, because we’re voting to do what is best for the village as a whole,” he said prior to the board’s vote.
“I’m going to vote ‘yes’ tonight because I feel sufficiently satisfied that anybody who has concern has had an opportunity to voice it. It doesn’t mean they are going to get their position, but this is what government is about and I think the village overall has done an excellent job of studying the situation, laying it out, and hopefully, if it’s a yes vote, will have the least minimal impact on all of the residents of the village,” he said.
Village President Jeff Braiman noted that input from residents resulted in some changes to the original proposal, including a noise wall along a portion of Weiland, alterations to buffers and the addition of bike lanes.
“I think this is one of the few projects that has seen as much input from the community, from the board, in the 20, 25 years I’ve been involved,” Braiman said.
The plans will next be sent to state and federal agencies for approval. Upon approval, the second phase of the study, which entails engineering design, will begin.
Bob Andres, an engineer for CivilTech, said in October that it will likely take two years to acquire the needed land and prepare construction contracts. In the third and final phase of the project, expected to span from 2015 until at least 2018, contracts will be awarded and construction will begin.
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