Lauzen reinforces Longmeadow support in State of Kane County address
As a state senator from Aurora, Chris Lauzen hated Illinois' tollways. Before the days of open road tolling, he'd pull up to an automated toll booth, roll down his window and mutter a few choice words about the Illinois Tollway Authority before tossing his change in the basket.
As Kane County Board chairman, Lauzen may still not like tollways. But he understands how their use can benefit his own local taxpayers.
On Friday, Lauzen spent about half of his State of Kane County address doubling down on his support for the Longmeadow Parkway. That 5.6-mile project will create a new crossing over the Fox River about one mile south of the McHenry County border. And, yes, it will include a tollway.
"It is an amazing irony that I'd be doing this," Lauzen said of his support for that yet-to-be-determined toll.
Lauzen said the tollway portion of the plan will be as short as possible. And the tollway amount will be as low as possible. But the best part is that studies indicate about 40 percent of the users of the tollway will be McHenry County residents.
"The interesting thing about having a user fee is it means (McHenry County) is making a real commitment to the expense of building it," Lauzen said.
He acknowledged Longmeadow opponents have made their voices heard in recent months. However, nothing the opponents have said or done have overshadowed the ongoing support from all the local city councils and village boards who will be impacted by the project, he said.
Lauzen pointed specifically to the Dundee Township referendum last month. More than 8,000 people voted to oppose the $135 million parkway. Lauzen said the wording on the referendum was so biased against the parkway that the results weren't valid.
"When people have referendums, they should word it fairly," Lauzen said. "That referendum, it's not a proper test, a valid sample, of how people feel."
Lauzen emphasized the project has had a favorable environmental impact review. Even better, much of the funding is already in hand, he said. To date, the county has commitments for $72.3 million is federal, state and local money for the project. Construction on the non-tollway portion of the plan began earlier this month.