After almost three years of studies, meetings and arguments, the Rolling Meadows City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday against participating in improvements to Meacham Road.
Before the vote, Mayor Tom Rooney warned that years of deterioration and eventually a four- or five-lane road could be in the future if the city did not accept the Illinois Department of Transportation's current plan for expanding the tree-lined road to three lanes, then turning the road over to local governments.
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"You can count on their (IDOT) tedious process of watching what they have deteriorate and deteriorate and deteriorate that will go beyond anything this city will allow," Rooney said. And when IDOT decides it can wait no longer, the proposed ramps on the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) at Meacham Road will affect its plans, the mayor said.
"When they decide to do something, I believe you're going to end up with something far bigger than three lanes," he said. "It might take five or seven or 10 years."
Voting against the plan were Mike Cannon of the 1st Ward, Brad Judd of the 4th Ward, John D'Astice of the 6th Ward and Jim Larsen of the 7th Ward. The yes votes came from Len Prejna of the 2nd Ward, Laura Majikes of the 3rd Ward and Robert Banger Jr. of the 5th Ward.
Larsen had solicited public comment and said he received a number from residents and nonresidents.
"I have gotta say that at no point have I received any feedback from anyone that says 'We'd love to see this move forward.'"
Judd said the project would mean double taxation for Rolling Meadows residents because they already pay IDOT, and they would have to pay local taxes to maintain the road in the future.
Originally IDOT suggested Meacham/Plum Grove Road from Emerson to Algonquin (Route 62) could be widened to four or five lanes, but agreed with city officials that three -- two lanes and a central turning lane -- would work.
About two years ago, 150 area residents packed an informational meeting to protest widening the road, and several talked against the project every time it was on the city council's agenda. Four spoke at Tuesday's meeting.
The city twice surveyed nearby residents and people who use the road. A majority of neighborhood residents who returned the surveys supported three lanes.
As it has in many towns, IDOT has proposed rebuilding the road mostly with state and federal funds on condition the local governments take over ownership.
The project was expected to cost about $7 million, with a federal grant covering about $4.7 million, and the state paying about $2.6 million. The road north of the Salt Creek bridge would be under Rolling Meadows jurisdiction, the bridge and the road south of it Schaumburg's.
They would have been partners in the project with each municipality paying an estimated $70,000 for a phase one engineering study, the only part of the project listed with local financial participation. Palatine Township, which also has territory along the road, agreed to help pay, too, said Fred Vogt, the city's director of public works.
The early engineering study was expected to answer such questions as how far the road would expand and what trees would be lost. Vogt had predicted the project would not require much land beyond the current right of way.
Rooney and other supporters of a three-lane road said they would oppose any wider expansion.