District 62 Republicans on opposite sides of Route 53 debate
While they agree traffic can be trying at times, candidates for the Republican nomination in the state's 62nd House District differ on whether extending Route 53 north into Lake County would help.
Mortgage banker Ken Idstein favors the long-proposed but never realized project, while financial adviser Adam Solano figures it's time to move on. The winner of the March 20 primary between the Grayslake residents will face Democratic state Rep. Sam Yingling in November.
"I would definitely support Route 53," Idstein said during a joint endorsement session with the Daily Herald. "It's the next concentric circle in northern Illinois and through our county for transportation."
He noted the idea has been on the books since the 1960s and has seen a map showing it extending through McHenry to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
"Route 53 would improve lives, improve transportation (and) spur economic growth," he added. "Another excellent way to lessen the burden of property taxes is economic growth."
Solano said the situation has changed from when the concept first arose, as more people are working locally or from home.
"I've lived in Lake County long enough to know it's one of those things where you just kind of wish it would go away, in my opinion," he said.
"It's been a boondoggle of sorts and it's just one environmental study after the other in a state where we don't have the money necessarily. So generally speaking, I'm opposed to it," Solano added.
The Illinois Toll Highway Authority is proceeding with a $25 million environmental impact study of the controversial extension, but communities are split and a lawsuit has been filed to stop the study.
Solano reiterated his opposition to Route 53 Tuesday night during a candidate forum in Round Lake Beach.
"It has been around forever and it's gotten nowhere fast," he said in response to an audience question. "I think we should cut our losses and spend the money somewhere else."
Idstein said the project "certainly would provide a little better quality of life" and jobs, noting the majority of needed right of way has been secured.
In the Daily Herald session, Idstein said property is still being acquired in Grayslake near a proposed Route 120 bypass, which also is part of the Route 53 plan. Selling or developing the right of way would be a consideration if the project ever is officially dead, but not before, he said.
"I would certainly support many improvements to the existing Route 120 but it's not the end-all," Idstein said. "It's not going to solve our long-term transportation issues."
The 62nd District includes all or parts of Grayslake, Hainesville, the Round Lake communities, Lake Villa, Gurnee, Wauconda, Wildwood and Gages Lake.