Van Til: Illiana Expressway could improve south county drainage

2013-05-21T17:30:00Z 2013-05-22T08:31:03Z Van Til: Illiana Expressway could improve south county drainageMarc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | The proposed south county Illiana Expressway could carry a benefit beyond an expected relief valve for heavy region traffic, Lake County's surveyor said Tuesday.

If the engineering for the proposed highway is done correctly, stormwater drainage for farms and residences in the southern portion of the county could improve, Surveyor George Van Til said.

Van Til met in his office Tuesday with about a dozen engineers, surveyor's office personnel and state transportation officials to discuss drainage issues that would surround the proposed Illiana Expressway.

The meeting came a day after Van Til, the county's elected surveyor for the past 20 years, was arraigned in Hammond federal court on public corruption charges alleging he used county employees and facilities to further his political campaign.

Van Til would not comment on the case, insisting that his office will continue to deal with pressing county drainage issues in the wake of his criminal indictment late last week.

Jim Pinkerton, communications director for the Indiana Department of Transportation's LaPorte District, said Tuesday's meeting with Van Til's staff was part of a series of gatherings to address local concerns surrounding the proposed highway.

Van Til vowed to work closely with INDOT to ensure local drains — and rules pertaining to them — are addressed in any possible Illiana engineering.

Van Til said there currently is a "hodgepodge" of stormwater drains along the proposed Illiana route north of Lowell. About seven of those drains are regulated by his office, and another half dozen are unregulated, he said.

Van Til said any drainage improvements brought about by the proposed Illiana could create an opportunity to make all of the drains legal and under the watch of the surveyor's office.

Richard Rampone, a private engineer and project official for the Illiana, said the project team is working to collect information from local residents and units of local government pertaining to existing drainage problems.

Rampone said the more drainage problems his teams knows about in advance, the more it can potentially alleviate with the engineering of the highway.

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