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Article posted: 12/24/2013 5:30 AM

Suggestions for road, transit and nonmotorized travel part of proposed 2040 plan

Traffic moves along Route 45 at Grass Lake Road in Millburn. The proposed Lake County 2040 Transportation Plan includes a proposal to widen Route 45 for the Millburn bypass.

Traffic moves along Route 45 at Grass Lake Road in Millburn. The proposed Lake County 2040 Transportation Plan includes a proposal to widen Route 45 for the Millburn bypass.

 

Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2008

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Suggested improvements to make it easier to get around Lake County are on the table and open for public comment.

While there are ample suggestions for road widening, intersection work and other construction, Lake County's proposed 2040 Transportation Plan also includes options for transit as well as potential connections for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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More flexible scheduling and "deviated" routes for buses, for example, are among the suggestions. But there are other elements, such as signals that can adjust to traffic outside of rush hour, that are being considered for down the line.

"Our first obligation is to make what we have work better," said Bruce Christensen, principal planner and project manager for the Lake County Division of Transportation. "We're very heavily invested in technology, signal timing and interconnects."

Long-range transportation plans are required by state law, and the most recent one in Lake County was adopted in 2002 for the year 2020.

The latest window was extended to be in sync with regional plans made by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and make for "apples to apples" comparisons for information such as population and employment forecasts, he added.

The long-range plan is used as a guide by Lake County and other agencies, such as the Illinois Department of Transportation or Lake County Forest Preserve District, when compiling five-year construction programs.

Work on the 2040 plan began in early 2011 but was suspended while an advisory committee determined the potential of a Route 53 extension into Lake County, according to Christensen.

Lake County's 2020 long-range plan for arterial highways has two scenarios: one with a 6-lane expressway and one without the extension at all.

An advisory group has recommended to the Illinois Toll Highway Authority that the extension be built as a four-lane boulevard.

"The one major difference between the 2040 plan and prior plans is we're only working with one roadway network," Christensen said.

The roadway portion of the plan includes proposed work on state highways, such as widening Route 45 to include the Millburn bypass, that were agreed to a few years ago by a consensus of local officials.

The transit plan is more refined than in 2020 because the county and Pace, the suburban bus agency, completed joint studies that answered the location and type of markets for service are in Lake County, said Marty Buehler, executive director of the Lake County Transportation Alliance and former county engineer.

"This is something that hadn't been done probably in 30 years," Christensen said. The result will be recommendations for more Call-n-Ride service or so-called deviated routes which could take riders closer to their destinations.

For walkers or bikers, the plan builds on the policy of the county providing a "trunk-system" network to which local connections can be made, Christensen said.

Public input on the 2040 plan is being accepted until Dec. 31. Comments can be made at www.lakecountyil.gov/transportation or by emailing Christensen at bchristensen@lakecountyil.gov.

Comments will be reviewed and the proposed plan presented to the Lake County Board for adoption in February or March.

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