Sauer exiting tollway board in midst of Route 53 angst

 
 
Updated 5/20/2016 4:29 PM
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  • Nick Sauer is stepping down from the Illinois tollway board.

    Nick Sauer is stepping down from the Illinois tollway board.

Lake County's representative on the Illinois tollway board, Nick Sauer, is stepping down after a brief tenure and will be replaced by Neli Vazquez-Rowland, co-founder of an alcohol and drug addiction recovery program, a state official said.

Sauer was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner a year ago as he revamped the tollway administration. The Lake County Board member is running as a Republican in the November election for the Illinois House seat held by outgoing state Rep. Edward Sullivan of Mundelein.

Sauer's seat will be filled by Vazquez-Rowland, an official said Friday. Vazquez-Rowland, a financial adviser, is co-founder of A Safe Haven, which provides housing and counseling for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and their families.

The move comes as the tollway faces a critical juncture in the fate of the proposed Route 53 extension into Lake County. The agency is funding planning for the project, and directors voted to spend up to $50 million on a feasibility study last year.

But on Monday, Lake County Chairman Aaron Lawlor pulled his support from the expansion, saying he didn't think it was financially viable.

Tollway leaders said they intend to pursue the study, which is expected to relieve traffic congestion, but significant pushback is expected from some in Lake County who oppose the extension.

• Daily Herald Staff Writer Kerry Lester contributed to this report.

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