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posted: 10/4/2010 12:01 AM

Mathias, Birnbaum differ on urgency of Route 53 extension

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  • Sidney Mathias

    Sidney Mathias


Over the years, the extension of Route 53 north into Lake County has been the focus of extensive and often heated debate.

Communities like Buffalo Grove have pushed for it, while others, like Buffalo Grove's neighbor Long Grove, have ardently opposed it.

On Saturday, the issue was raised at a candidate's forum at Arlington Heights Village Hall.

One of the extension's biggest proponents, Republican state Rep. Sidney Mathias, is running to retain his seat in the 53rd District.

His opponent, Democrat Linda Birnbaum, said she isn't sure Route 53's extension is really on people's radar screen. Nor does it seem to be a priority.

Mathias said the extension is "not only possible, but I believe it's probable."

Mathias said he has testified within the last couple of months before state tollway officials, urging them to continue their plans to construct the extension.

He said it will probably take a number of years to build, but it needs to be done.

"The citizens in the 53rd District and the surrounding districts want it, and it really is necessary," he said. "Unfortunately, the funding has always been the main issue, and I have come to the conclusion the only way to fund it is through the toll highway authority, through tollway bonds that could be issued tomorrow if they wanted to do it."

Birnbaum doesn't see it as such a high priority.

"Walking door to door in the 53rd District, I have not heard anyone talk about the extension of Route 53, so I don't know that it is an issue that is pressing on people's minds," she said. "We have many other issues that we need to spend our precious resources on."

The candidate forum was presented by the League of Women Voters of Arlington Heights-Mount Prospect-Buffalo Grove Area.