Grassroots group wants health study of Route 53 extension
Opponents of a proposed Route 53 extension into Lake County are seeking support for a study to determine potential health impacts of the highway.
Representatives of Livable Lake County in association with the Sierra Club Illinois chapter say such an assessment is needed in addition to planned environmental studies.
Mechanics Grove Elementary School in Mundelein District 75, as well as Mundelein High School, are near the proposed road corridor. The road also would pass near homes at various locations and medical facilities in Grayslake, the groups say.
"Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution because their lungs aren't developed yet," said Barbara Klipp, co-chairwoman of Livable Lake County.
"Right now we're asking (for support) and at the same time we're researching how it works. We really would like the Lake County Health Department to have some role in oversight."
Last month, the Illinois Toll Highway Authority board authorized a $25 million environmental impact study of an extension that would run from Lake-Cook Road to Route 120. The process is expected to take four or five years.
The District 75 school board on Monday informally considered a request to support a health study but didn't take any action.
"We need to at least think about it and decide what we want to do," school board President Wells Frice said. "We'll bring it back for a decision one way or another."
Anthony Vega, conservation organizer with the Sierra Club, said an environmental impact study won't cover health risks associated with the highway.
"This is part of the due diligence," he said.
"Everyone should be aware of what the whole picture looks like. The community needs to see the consequences of extending 53," he added.
Klipp said the groups are determining how the study would work and gathering other details, but plans to keep lobbying for support at the local, county and state levels.
That would include asking state legislators to sign a letter asking the tollway to include a health impact assessment as part of its study.