Elected officials agree that Rolling Meadows will not cooperate in a Meacham Road widening project in the foreseeable future, but the city council decided informally Tuesday to ask the Northwest Municipal Conference to hold $4.7 million in federal funds for the project in a special category in case things change in several years.
The municipal conference allocates federal road funds between various projects and can move unspent funds to other projects.
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The council voted 4-3 a week ago against proceeding with a controversial plan to widen the rural flavored road to three lanes in Rolling Meadows.
"However, as a good neighbor, down the road Schaumburg might need to do something and would still need access to their portion of this money," said Mayor Tom Rooney, referring to Schaumburg's plan to partner on the road widening project where the road is two lanes in the northern part of that town. Rooney mentioned potential home construction at a large tract called Loeber Farm and planned ramps for the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) at Meacham as reasons Schaumburg might decide to act on its own.
At this point though, the Schaumburg village staff is not interested in proceeding alone on the portion south of Salt Creek, said Fred Vogt, Rolling Meadows director of public works.
The federal money plus $2.6 million from the state would have covered most of the cost of the project, but after the road was rebuilt, the Illinois Department of Transportation would have turned future maintenance of Meacham/Plum Grove Road from Emerson to Algonquin Road over to the local municipalities.
At one point IDOT said the road could be expanded to four or five lanes, and Rolling Meadows officials fought for limiting it to three lanes. Nearby residents spoke against any widening of the road, and Rolling Meadows aldermen and residents said they did not want to pay for long-term maintenance.
John D'Astice, alderman of the 6th ward, said he would never vote for a Meacham Road project, but perhaps a future council might.
A supporter of the three-lane option, Len Prejna, alderman of the 2nd ward, said the council is telling homeowners who want repairs or changes on Meacham Road in the future "you deal with Springfield from now on. Don't come knocking on our door."
After the vote Jay Andrew, a leader of the opposition to the project, said the council was "moving ahead again without public input" in asking that funds be put in abeyance.
Rooney said the council vote had changed over the years with fewer and fewer alderman supporting the project, an indication that officials had listened to residents.
"If half of some of the snotty comments (about not listening) were true that were made from this microphone, the result you saw last week would never have happened," he said.