Could 45 mph Route 53 extension face speed bump?
Not so fast, proponents of a 45 mph extension of Route 53 say to a new Illinois law that sets the speed limit for tollways at 70 mph.
The Illinois House overrode Gov. Pat Quinn's earlier veto of the policy Wednesday, meaning it will go into effect in 2015.
But it's unclear if raising speed limits to 70 mph on tollways conflicts with plans for the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority to build a 45 mph four-lane parkway that extends Route 53 from Lake-Cook Road to Route 120.
A lower speed limit, designed to lessen the impact of the road on communities and environmentally sensitive areas, was one reason why opponents of the project bought into it. A blue-ribbon committee of local leaders, businesses and environmental groups reached a consensus in 2012 on the road, which triggered the tollway's involvement. The agency is paying for consultants to work on the project although it has yet to vote on whether to adopt it.
Tollway officials said in a statement that "we believe the veto override won't prevent the tollway from continuing to plan for a 45 mph speed limit on the Route 53/120 Extension.
"We would have to evaluate the speed limit if and when the new roadway is constructed."
Lake County Chairman Aaron Lawlor said Thursday that "I haven't read the legislation in detail but it's the county's position and the position of the (blue ribbon advisory committee) that this road be constructed at 45 mph,"
"The speed limit is very important to the consensus," Lawlor said.
Sen. Jim Oberweis, who sponsored the law, said "the whole purpose is to increase safety for drivers.
"Studies have shown it's not the absolute level of speed that causes accidents -- it's the variation in speed. When the speed limit is 55 mph but all traffic is going 70 mph, it creates a dangerous situation," the Sugar Grove Republican said.
In urban parts of the metropolitan region, speed limits on tollways are mostly 55 mph.
The Route 53 extension faces other hurdles, including a funding gap of up to $2 billion. Planners have suggested charging 20 cents a mile on the parkway, which includes a Route 120 component stretching between the Tri-State Tollway and Route 12.
The road expansion would be near some significant prairie and wetland areas. To offset noise, pollution and runoff, the plan calls for features such as the lower speed, drainage systems and lowering the road.