EDITORIAL: Local input should influence Illiana design

2013-03-07T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Local input should influence Illiana design nwitimes.com
March 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Already, opponents are lining up against the Illiana Expressway, even before the actual route is chosen. The opposition is premature at best.

Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, D-Crown Point, and state Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, gave their 2 cents' worth recently to James A. Earl II, project manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

"I can't see any benefit to Indiana," Niemeyer said.

We sure can.

This expressway isn't so much about providing a high-speed route for residents of southern Lake County, although it would offer that, as much as it is a way to siphon truck traffic off U.S. 30 and the Borman Expressway.

The Illiana Expressway would provide significant traffic congestion relief on U.S. 30 and the Borman Expressway. Don't forget that additional lanes can't be added to the Borman, and widening U.S. 30 is problematic because of the number of businesses along this busy commercial corridor.

And don't forget the jobs involved not just in building and operating the highway, but also in providing services to truckers and others who would use it.

Scheub complained about road closures in south Lake County. "Your proposal will endanger the safety of the citizens, police, fire, ambulance, highway department and school buses and put a tremendous burden on remaining north-south roads," Scheub said.

Earl asked county officials to help design a better highway. Rather than oppose it outright, Scheub, Niemeyer, Tri-Creek Republicans and others should take up Earl's offer.

The 60-mile highway would run from Interstate 65, just south of 153rd Avenue, west between Lowell and Cedar Lake, merging with Interstate 55 in Illinois. The corridor is now 2,000 feet wide but will be narrowed to 400 feet this fall.

The expressway planners would do well to consider not just traffic flow on the expressway, but also on roads under and around it. Look at which roads would be cut off, what that would mean to the residents and businesses in the area, and how emergency services would be affected.

Make no mistake; this road must be built. it is needed for congestion relief and jobs.

But design decisions should be influenced by local input. Planning well means designing the road in a way that invalidates many of the opposing arguments.

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