We need a better plan for Rt. 53 extension
Last month, Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor made an appearance before the village of Lake Bluff Board of Trustees Committee of the Whole to promote a decades old plan to construct the Rt. 53/120 toll road extension.
Mr. Lawlor stated, "The toll road extension is needed to bring industry to Lake County."
The lowly taxpayer knows that Lake County's once strong industrial base no longer exists, and Illinois' economy is in dire financial straits. Overly high local corporate and real estate tax liabilities have forced industry to seek more permanent and financially secure nestling places, in other states and offshore. The proposed multi-billion-dollar road is not likely to lure industry back to northeastern Illinois.
In 2013, the Illinois Tollway committee paid a consulting firm $4 million to determine it would cost $2.1 billion to construct the Rt. 53/120 extension. Government-supported and monitored construction nearly always carries with it large overruns.
While, a dollar value of $2.1 billion was given, final costs of $3.2 billion to $4.2 billion are probable.
IDOT has spent $400 million to acquire 65 percent of the land for the corridor. Another $200 million will be needed to acquire the rest. If the highway construction commences, 31,000 acres, including fragile native and wetland environments, will be negatively impacted; quality of safe groundwater supplies will diminish; Value Capture (multilayered TIF districts) financers will seize land and taxing resources away from local jurisdictions; and, Lake County will place an additional 4-cents per gallon tax on gasoline sold.
In light of the present economy, the "build it and they will come" plan is without merit. The development of a more creditable and fully transparent Lake County plan, that will authenticate roadway travel needs and address taxpayers' financial concerns, is an absolute must.