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updated: 9/27/2013 11:59 AM

Plan for tunnel near parks resurfaces in Island Lake

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  • A long-dormant proposal to build a tunnel beneath Route 176 has resurfaced. One of the parks is Veterans Park, shown here.

      A long-dormant proposal to build a tunnel beneath Route 176 has resurfaced. One of the parks is Veterans Park, shown here.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2007


A decades-old proposal to connect two Island Lake parks on opposite sides of Route 176 with a tunnel beneath the busy road has resurfaced.

But the man who brought the concept back for public discussion, Mayor Charles Amrich, admitted it isn't happening any time soon because of the potential $1.5 million price tag.

"I think it would be nice to have," Amrich told the Daily Herald on Friday. "Obviously, we can't afford it right now."

Steve Verseman, an engineer with the Baxter and Woodman firm, spoke to the village board about the proposal during the panel's meeting Thursday night.

The tunnel would connect Veterans Park and Water Tower Park, which are east of River Road in the McHenry County portion of Island Lake. Veterans Park is on the north side of Route 176, while Water Tower Park is on the south side.

The tunnel first was proposed in the 1990s, during Amrich's first run as mayor.

On Friday, Amrich said he's concerned about children who have to cross the busy state highway to get to one park or the other.

When public events are held in both parks, village police officers have to direct traffic and help pedestrians cross the road, Amrich said.

A tunnel "would make it a lot safer," he said.

When the tunnel plan surfaced initially, officials estimated it could be built for about $600,000. On Thursday, Verseman said it now could cost between $1.2 million and $1.5 million.

Amrich said that's too much cash for Island Lake, which has struggled financially in recent years. But he wants to keep the plan alive anyway.

He said he hopes a future board "will keep (it) in mind."

Any work on or beneath Route 176 would require state approval, since the Illinois Department of Transportation controls the road.

Any future widening of Route 176 could affect the proposal, too, Amrich said.

Trustee Shannon Fox said she's also interested in the plan. It was last discussed about two years ago, she said.

If the plan ever moves forward, officials could seek grants or try to split the cost of the work with IDOT, Fox said.

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