CEDAR LAKE | More than 100 property owners whose homes and businesses are in the path of the proposed Illiana Expressway received a glimpse of the future Monday at a landowners meeting hosted by the Indiana Department of Transportation.
"The biggest thing tonight is just the exchange of information," said James Earl, project manager for the Illiana corridor project. "We know there are a lot of concerns about the project. But the way to make this project the best it can be — if it's built — is to listen to the concerns of landowners."
Earl's words did little to quiet the restive mood at the Cedar Lake Ministries hall. The meeting followed on three landowner meetings held last week in Illinois attracting about 300 people and will be followed by another one at the hall Thursday night.
Earl said meetings for the general public will be held in April and early summer and at a public hearing in the fall to take comments on a final preferred alternative for the road's exact path.
The earliest offers for homes in either state probably won't happen until summer 2014, Earl said.
After Earl's talk, landowners were assigned representatives to answer questions throughout the process. Those representatives and others from the two state departments of transportation were on hand with maps of the proposed corridor for the road.
The route chosen last year, known as B3, would start at Interstate 65 just south of 153rd Avenue and run approximately due west between Lowell and Cedar Lake, pass south of the site of a proposed airport at Peotone and on to Interstate 55 in Illinois.
The corridor under consideration is about 2,000 feet wide, but that will be narrowed to just 400 feet by fall. Earl used the word "evolving" to describe the progress of plans.
That nature of the plan is worrying homeowners Dan and Maria Rodriguez, who moved nine years ago from Griffith to a home at Broadway and 163rd Avenue northeast of Lowell.
"We want to know where are we going? Or where do we stand?" Dan Rodriguez said. "We are still in limbo."
As it stands now, the road would not go through their home. But from the maps they've seen, they will be staring out their front window at the four-lane toll road, which may be worse, they said.
Opposition to the road was still in evidence, with Donna Slikas of the group NoIlliana4US doing a brisk business gathering signatures for a petition opposing the road at the door to Monday night's event.
"Yes, we are still against it," Slikas said. "Because it's not needed. It's not wanted."