Long Grove Village President on Proposed Route 53 Expansion
I've been a resident of Lake County for nearly 31 years with the last 18 years in Long Grove. The reason I moved to Lake County, and in particular Long Grove, as many friends and neighbors I know did, was because of the open space and country setting. This is something I believe strongly in protecting. In May of 2017, I attended the Illinois Tollway board meeting where the Board made the decision to spend $25 million on an Environmental Impact study. I must admit, I was concerned by the number of contractors that testified why this project would be good for Lake County. I would have preferred local residents who live in the area to be the ones touting the project as a positive for all concerned. Another important note to residents who live in Lake County and the surrounding areas; there is not one member on the Tollway Board who lives in Lake County, and I believe that also means that chances are none of the Tollway Board members drive our roads every day as our friends and neighbors do.
In a recent Daily Herald article, Tollway Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom was quoted as saying if Route 53 remains unchanged, the average travel speed will be 14 mph-and they are working on developing an alternative that is good for families, job creators and the environment. How can such a statement be accurate at all, if you don't live, work and drive in Lake County every day to understand both its challenges and strengths?
It is true that traffic has grown in our area with the 45% increase in the Lake County population since I moved in back in 1987, but the fact of the matter is that the State of Illinois is not focused on addressing our traffic flow issues. I instead believe the focus is on building a $2.6B toll road. As many of us do, I live and work in Lake County, and as so many others can, I see that driving east to west is the greatest challenge in southern Lake County - not north to south. So, the proposed Route 53 Extension would not improve the daily commute of our neighbors and friends. This project would actually make the current situation worse as concentrated traffic would spill out on the already congested east-west roads.
As the current Long Grove Village President, I welcome a strong focus on real transportation solutions that will protect Lake County, which can be implemented today at a fraction of the cost of extending Route 53. Proposed projects, such as widening Route 22 through Long Grove, and widening Route 83 near our northern border (including an overpass over the rail road tracks) would help us all immediately traverse through the County. Also, it should be noted that a major traffic flow disrupter is the Canadian National Rail Road, which after purchasing the EJ&E rail line 10 years ago, has diverted train traffic from Chicago through Lake County. Minimal mitigation has been done, and more emphasis needs to be put here as well.
Let's strongly encourage those at the helm of these decisions to consider the affected parties, and what the best choice is for all of us who will need to live with, and around, the consequences.
Bill Jacob, Long Grove Village President