Lake County 2040 transit plan steers away from cars
BY RONNIE WACHTER email@example.com | @ronniewachter December 20, 2013 10:12AM
Eric Neubauer (left) of TranSystem, which help assemble the Lake County Department of Transportation's construction plans for 2040, explains some of the ideas to visitors at the department's open house Dec. 18. | Ronnie Wachter/Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 22, 2014 4:44AM
The Lake County Division of Transportation’s 2040 master plan holds many new possibilities, if they could all be approved and funded.
A Dec. 18 forum in Libertyville revealed the Lake County of 2040 would include not just more buses, but buses that would come to where you are, and drop you off closer to where you would like to go; a bicycle path starting at the Braeside train station in Highland Park west along Lake Cook Road to Buffalo Grove.
“The big push here is to get people out of their cars,” said Bruce Christensen, transportation coordinator. “There are people who would bike, if they had the facilities.”
But Christensen said the No. 1 item on their wish list is a gift from another agency: the state Route 53 extension from Lake Cook to Route 120 in the county’s center, a project that the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority has discussed for decades. A new planning committee, of which Underwood is a member, is searching for ways to fund the idea that would include a bicycle path.
But Christensen said he had seen plenty of such groups come and go.
“I’m 67 years old, and they started reviewing the extension when I was in high school,” he said.
The county’s 2040 plan also assumes the construction of a Weiland Road extension and widening in Buffalo Grove, which would turn the two-lane street into a thoroughfare meant to move commuters, relocating a business and a few back yards along the way.
The agenda calls for:
• Lake-Cook to be widened from Sheridan Road to Ela Road
• Milwaukee Avenue to be widened from Lake-Cook to Townline Road
• Choke-point relief on a widened Deerfield Road from Interstate 94 to Milwaukee
• State-funded strangle relief by widening Route 22 from Arlington Heights Road to Quentin Road
• Separation of the train tracks from Old McHenry Road in Hawthorn Woods
Christensen said some of the heavy work may not be in turning dirt over, but in turning opinions about buses over.
“Most of the suburban areas are not dense enough to support traditional bus transit,” he said.
So, the solution could be in “deviation” buses, which would move along a general route, but could deviate by a few blocks to get riders closer to where they need to go.
Christensen said any such adjustments will take time to complete. He noted that the federal government’s last major transportation bill, which came down in 2005, stressed non-motorized transportation ... but the short-term plans that Lake County unveiled as recently as 2010 had no agendas for bicycles or buses.
At this winter’s open house, the department put on display three separate, giant maps of the county — one for traditional roads, one of bus plans and one for bicycle plans.
How much the wish list would cost is still undetermined. The three maps took into account projects from the state, the tollway and the Lake County Forest Preserve District, but Christensen said there were no estimates yet on what the price tag would be for construction of all the county DOT’s ideas.
“That’s coming,” he said. “We’ll have to prioritize these. Our first job is to preserve what we already have.”