Lindehurst officials resigned to western Route 45 bypass
By Diana Kuyper Special to The News-Sun March 13, 2013 6:44PM
Traffic crisscrosses through the Route 45, Grass Lake and Millburn Roads intersection, also known by some as the "Millburn Strangler." | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 13, 2013 2:13AM
Lindenhurst officials are urging residents to attend an open house public hearing March 21 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Millburn Middle School, 640 Freedom Way, that will outline future changes to Route 45 from Grand Avenue north to Route 173.
Part of the project area is the Millburn bypass, taking Route 45 west to bypass the Millburn Historic District. The route aligns Grass Lake and Millburn roads. The bypass cuts off the eastern border of the McDonald Woods Forest Preserve, continues north through Forest Trail subdivision, runs along the east border of Heritage Trails Subdivision to rejoin Route 45 by Millburn West School.
The hearing, sponsored by Illinois Department of Transportation and Lake County Department of Transportation, will present the results of an environmental impact study of the area, planned improvements for the selected west Millburn bypass alternative and likely future improvements to. Route 45 north and south of the bypass.
Exhibits will be on display and an audiovisual presentation will be shown about every 15 minutes beginning at 4:30 p.m. It is an open house format with IDOT and LCDOT representatives and project team members available to answer questions.
“There doesn’t seem that there is much more we can do to stop the bypass project,” said Lindenhurst Mayor Susan Lahr. “If we can’t stop it, the best we can do is to work with what is being planned. We want this to have as little negative impact as possible on our residents. I urge residents to attend and give their input into this project.”
IDOT is seeking public comments on the proposed project. The environmental assessment is available on the project Web site, www.route45project.com. The public has until April 8 to submit comments to IDOT.
Lahr said there are residents both for and against the project that was designed to alleviate the congested bottleneck through Millburn. Village officials, however, had favored a route that would have taken the bypass east through cornfields and vacant land rather than through residential neighborhoods.
Despite an organized effort to discourage the west bypass alternative, federal and state officials approved that route in July 2011.
The 30-member community advisory group (CAG) to the Millburn bypass study had reviewed and rated 18 initial alternative routes for the project, narrowing it to three and recommending the eastern alternative. Despite that recommendation, state and county officials opted for the western bypass route.
Village Trustee and Lindenhurst CAG representative Dominic Marturano is also urging residents to attend the March 21 meeting. “Take the opportunity to learn about this entire project area that extends from Route 132 to Route 173. It never hurts to be informed about a project that is going to have a huge impact on our community.”
Members of the Eastern Bypass Group, who have been publishing information about the project on their Web site, www.move45east.org, organized against the western bypass, are also encouraging residents to attend the hearing, said member Kevin Tuley. “We as members of the Lindenhurst community who are directly and indirectly affected by the proposed bypass, ask that everyone come to the meeting to make their views and statements heard.
According to a statement issued by the group, county and state officials have sent mailings to residents claiming public support of the project, “yet they continue to ignore the hard fact that 95 percent of the community gave a thumbs-down to the western bypass.”
The group also claims that the state and county have reneged on promises to incorporate sound mitigation and aesthetic enhancements to minimize the impact that the four, and in some areas, six lane highway will have on the affected neighborhoods.
“We sincerely hope that the 95 percent and more show up to let public officials know we cannot have a large highway go right through our backyards, especially when a viable alternative is possible with minimal impact on the community,” Tuley said. “We feel 5.9 seconds longer (for motorists) on the eastern bypass is a small price to pay to avoid the true effects of a western bypass, which are reduced safety, reduced property values, diminished forest preserve lands and increased noise and pollution.”