Lake County Council says no to Illiana Expressway

2013-12-10T18:45:00Z 2013-12-10T23:25:14Z Lake County Council says no to Illiana ExpresswayBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
December 10, 2013 6:45 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | The Lake County Council approved a resolution Tuesday opposing construction of the Illiana Expressway.

Council members registered their disapproval in a symbolic vote of four against the proposed highway, one supporting it, one abstention and one member absent.

Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, who will cast one of 52 votes Thursday on the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, cast one of the votes to scrap plans for the 47-mile toll road, which would stretch from Interstate 65 near Lowell to Interstate 55 near Wilmington, Ill.

Cid was joined by council members David Hamm, D-Hammond; Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point; and Dan Dernulc, R-Highland, who said government transportation dollars would better be spent on boosting the Gary/Chicago International Airport.

Strong said building the Illiana would boost the proposed airport near Peotone, Ill., to the detriment of Gary's airfield.

Council President Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, said he sided with Illiana proponents who believe the project will create short-term construction jobs and long-term economic development along the highway's patch.

Hamm and Cid questioned why state officials are willing to pour $1.5 billion into the Illiana to relieve truck traffic congestion while failing to resurrect the Cline Avenue extension, which Cid said has resulted in truck traffic through East Chicago neighborhoods.

Councilman Jerome Prince, D-Gary, said he has heard good arguments on both sides but refused to vote because the council resolution has no impact on whether the highway is ultimately built.

Councilwoman Elsie Franklin, D-Gary, was absent.

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