Rolling Meadows will pursue a letter of intent to gather more information and possible funding for the future expansion of Meacham Road to a three-lane roadway, despite the concerns of many residents.
The two-lane stretch of road between Algonquin Road and Emerson Drive has been the subject of controversy as the city tries to strike a balance between residents who don't want any expansion and the Illinois Department of Transportation, which may require a five-lane road in the future because of projections that show daily traffic on the road could nearly double by 2040.
As an attempt at compromise, the city council on Tuesday voted 5-2 to go for a letter of intent for a three-lane road, adding a central left-turn lane to alleviate accidents.
Aldermen Mike Cannon and Brad Judd said they voted against the resolution out of concern for the future maintenance costs of the state-controlled road should Rolling Meadows take over responsibility of it, which they said the city cannot afford.
Alderman Larry Buske said he supports the three-lane option as a compromise to preserve the country-road feeling that many residents have said they enjoy about that part of town.
"Five lanes will tear up that whole area. Three lanes won't," he said.
While Alderman Jim Larsen agreed, he said that doing nothing would be a mistake that residents may regret later.
"I live in the area and I appreciate the character of the neighborhood. It's why I moved here, too," Larsen said. "But if we just sit on our hands, we're going to eventually invite a five-lane highway. At least by engaging in this action we will have some voice in the matter."
Although Alderman John D'Astice supported the letter of intent on Tuesday because it is just a way to gather more information, he said he will veto later attempts to put any money toward a three-lane road because he thinks a five-lane option will be best for the area.
"When push comes to shove to committing funds, I'm probably going to say no because there's going to be a lot of traffic and we don't have the money to take care of the road," he said. "When the state wants to come in and build a five-lane road, let them go ahead and do it."
No matter the reason, some residents still don't want any expansion of Meacham Road.
"You've got a group of citizens who are angry and not comfortable with the project," said Jay Andrew, a representative of a group called Residents Against Meacham Road Expansion.
"The project has holes in it that I don't think will be answered by the first phase of engineering."