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Surveyor won't give Illiana pass on environmental regulations

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CROWN POINT | Lake Surveyor Bill Emerson Jr. said Wednesday he will not relax the county's stormwater drainage regulations for the proposed Illiana Expressway.

The surveyor publicly released his statement to the Indiana Department of Transportation in response to the state's request he not require the highway's developer comply with every detail in the county's stormwater management and clean water regulations.

HNTB, a Midwest engineering firm working on the project asked Emerson to use his authority to alter the standards on drainage ditches, detention basins, flood plain storage and the amount of water that can be released back into the environment by man-made storage facilities after a heavy rain.

HNTB said those standards could require larger bridges and increase the cost of the project.

Emerson said he couldn't go along with that. "The Lake County Surveyor's office will review any request for waivers on a case-by-case basis ... after a thorough review of the project specifications."

The Illiana would be a 47-mile toll road, which would stretch from Interstate 65 near Lowell to Interstate 55 near Wilmington, Ill. State officials are willing to pour $1.5 billion into its construction to relieve truck traffic congestion on other local highways.

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