CROWN POINT | Lake Councilwoman Christine Cid wishes someone would give her an electoral positioning system to navigate the Illiana Expressway debate.
The East Chicago-based official came under heavy pressure Tuesday to vote next month against building the proposed toll road across south Lake County. However, she also is mindful of arguments highway construction would create much-needed jobs.
"I wish the state would put questions like the Illiana or South Shore (commuter train) expansion on a referendum so the people could voice their opinion," Cid mused at the end of a council meeting.
She will cast one of 52 votes on the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission Dec. 12 on whether to write the Illiana Expressway into an official transportation plan or kill the 47-mile toll road, which would stretch from Interstate 65 near Lowell to Interstate 55, near Wilmington, Ill.
The lobbying against the new road got underway at the end of the county council's regular meeting, when Wayne Wietbrock, a retired Lowell area farmer, complained any immediate but temporary jobs the highway brings should be weighed against the permanent destruction of farmland "that would be a whole take-down of our community."
He was joined by two of Cid's fellow council members.
Councilwoman Elsie Franklin, D-Gary, said the projected Illiana cost of $1.3 billion "would be better spent on the north end of the county. I don't think we need to disturb those farm lands for what I call a highway to nowhere."
Councilman Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point, echoed his earlier announcement last week that he opposes the highway, saying the county instead should be investing in the Gary/Chicago International Airport.
Strong said the Illiana has been touted as a way to relieve congestion on existing highways, but he noted the recent Borman Expressway expansion has dramatically reduced traffic jams.