Crowd opposes widening Rolling Meadows' Meacham Road

Updated 4/13/2012 2:12 PM

Yes, Meacham Road in Rolling Meadows is a state road, but that little stretch feels very different because it's only two lanes wide, and the trees lean close.

Nearby residents like it that way, but city officials say it could be time to update -- and widen -- that section between Algonquin and Kirchoff roads.

Fred Vogt, the city's director of public works, and a team of engineers Thursday night faced almost 150 people who obviously oppose widening the road.

It's going to take a lot of work to convince state and federal officials to merely add one central turning lane as opposed to widening the road to four or five lanes, said Vogt. The three-lane option would only expand the road by 2 to 4 feet beyond the current shoulders, he said.

It is hoped that after the federal and state governments pay the lion's share of upgrading the road it will be turned over to Schaumburg south of Salt Creek and Rolling Meadows north of there.

This is the feasibility period, and it will be years before decisions are made and construction starts, said Vogt and Ed Kalina of Furhman Engineering, who the city has hired as project manager.

Residents disputed the projections that the road would carry more than 21,000 cars daily in 2040, compared with the current 15,000. Bill Eidson of Burke Engineering, which works for the city, admitted he had protested the predictions when they were developed by Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which reduced the estimate a bit.

Pam Potter suggested the city reject the $3.5 million the federal government has earmarked for the project, and others said increased road width will bring more traffic and more accidents.

Ed Kalina of Furhman Engineering, project manager of the road, said if Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg do not proceed with the project, the Illinois Department of Transportation will probably decide within seven years to widen Meacham to four lanes.

"The accidents will continue to rise," he said. Sixty accidents have occurred in the stretch in three years, compared with 14 in a three-year period studied 10 years ago. Many are rear endings that might be alleviated if left-turning vehicles had their own lane, said the engineers.

"Doing absolutely nothing is always an option at this point," said Vogt to cheers. "But is that option the best option for the city of Rolling Meadows, the village of Schaumburg, the unincorporated areas and the safety of the motoring public?"

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