While expanding Meacham Road between Algonquin Road and Emerson Avenue has been discussed for years, Rolling Meadows is trying to find a compromise between residents who want no change at all and the Illinois Department of Transportation, which may require a five-lane road.
Compromise may come in the form of a three-lane road for the section of Meacham that runs through Rolling Meadows, which today is a two-lane thoroughfare maintained by IDOT. Traffic projections show that by 2040 the number of cars on the road will increase from 14,000 vehicles per day to more than 20,000. With that number of daily cars and an aging roadway, IDOT could require five lanes -- two lanes each way and a center lane to make left turns -- while residents who live along the roadway have spoken out against that idea.
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"The position of the city of Rolling Meadows was that the only way it's not going to turn into five lanes someday is to do two things. One is to make sure it's three lanes, and two is to take IDOT out of the equation entirely," Mayor Tom Rooney said.
IDOT may partially fund the $4.5 million to $5.5 million road improvement if Schaumburg and Rolling Meadows agree to take over future maintenance of the road.
Rooney said the two suburbs are trying to take a proactive step before IDOT comes in and does something residents really don't want. While IDOT doesn't have plans to redo Meacham Road in the immediate future, it is a possibility by 2040, he said. "Whenever this gets done, the IDOT default will be five lanes," Rooney said. "To do nothing now will be to get five lanes later."
But area residents still aren't happy.
"Your residents don't want this," said Jay Andrew, who represents a group of more than 150 residents called Residents Against Meacham Expansion.
The three-lane plan, he added, will still be a problem because without any traffic lights or stop signs it will be difficult for residents to turn out of their neighborhoods.
Andrew also has concerns that Palatine Township is not helping with costs of the project.
Public Works Director Fred Vogt said he has not had discussions with Palatine Township, but aldermen said the city needs to reach out to that body for input and financial contributions because part of the road is in the township's jurisdiction.
Alderman Robert Banger said that while opponents have been outspoken, the city should consider the needs of its other 24,000 residents, as well as the thousands who travel the road daily when commuting through town.
"One of our jobs is to make sure the city streets are in good shape, and I don't think anyone would disagree that this road is decaying," he said.
In a vote at the end of the last Tuesday's committee of the whole meeting, only three of five aldermen present wanted to move forward with engineering for a three-lane road. With two aldermen absent, Rooney asked the staff to wait until the July 10 meeting, when the full council will vote.