More than 60 residents filled the Rolling Meadows council chambers on Tuesday to hear an update on, and speak out against, a possible plan to expand Meacham Road.
Rolling Meadows and the village of Schaumburg agreed last July to share concept engineering plans for expanding the road. That engineering work is still going on, but Public Works Director Fred Vogt said he wanted to provide an update in February as was promised.
Several years ago Schaumburg and Rolling Meadows accepted $2.5 million in federal highway funding for improvements to Meacham Road, and another $1 million would likely be available now, Vogt said. Any additional costs could be covered by IDOT.
Meacham Road is a two-lane road, which Vogt said is over capacity. The two major possibilities are a three-lane road, which has one lane in each direction and a center left-turn lane, or a five-lane road, which has two lanes in each direction and a center turn lane.
"We're concerned about a five-lane road. That's like putting a highway through our neighborhood," said resident Mike Koehler. "Our neighborhood has a character that would be destroyed by doing that."
Other residents expressed safety concerns, saying a wider road would create accidents and be dangerous for kids to cross going to school. "It's bad enough now with traffic that comes through at excessive speeds," said resident Scott Hoadley. "If you expand that road you're going to invite drag racing."
Over the past few months a survey was sent to property owners along Meacham Road and those who live on streets about 1,000 feet from the road, and Vogt said the city received a wide range of responses.
Similar proposals for expansion died in the 1980s and 1990s because of objections from local homeowners.
"No decisions are being made right now. This is all very preliminary in nature," Vogt said. "We're still a number of years away from putting a shovel in."
Every resident who spoke out against the plans was met with applause, especially the final speaker, Tom Vincent, chair of the Rolling Meadows plan commission.
"I've been on the plan commission for over 30 years, and this is the first time I have ever opposed any improvement or development in Rolling Meadows," Vincent said. "There's no good reason, it doesn't make sense. Why spend the money on something the residents don't need and don't want?"
Mayor Tom Rooney said he is not in favor of a five-lane road and would fight it if that is the recommendation from IDOT. Alderman Rob Banger said he will wait for the final engineering information to make a decision, no other council members spoke on the issue.