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Advisory council endorses Route 53 extension plan

Updated: July 18, 2012 1:15AM

The long-envisioned, controversial Route 53 extension proposal was given a formal recommendation Friday by the The Illinois Route 53/120 Blue Ribbon Advisory Council, which endorsed construction of a four-lane “modern parkway” with a 45-mph maximum speed.

The council, which began studying the issue for the Illinois Tollway Authority nine months ago, also recommended that the Palatine-to-Grayslake roadway be limited access and funded through the use of tolls “as well as the use of local revenue sources and other options.”

“We are confident that the recommendations presented in this report reflect the will of the diverse group of members that the Illinois Tollway brought together to finally help reach consensus on this project,” Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman, who co-chaired the 29-member council of public and private figures, said in a statement. “We have made great strides through an open, transparent process that included tremendous public participation along the way.”

Stolman’s co-chair, George Ranney, president and CEO of the economic advisory group Metropolis Strategies, was quoted in the same statement as calling the endorsement “a significant step forward in road building. We have come together to outline a project that protects environmental concerns while creating a ‘modern parkway’ envisioned for the region.”

The recommendation covers not only the extension of Route 53 north from its current dead-end at Lake Cook Road but also the Route 120 bypass from Grayslake through the Round Lake area. While the council included the Route 120 proposal in its recommendation, it only stated that “alignment options for configuration of Illinois Route 120 that should move forward for further study.”

Along with the parameters mentioned above, recommendations for the Route 53 project included suggestions that revenue could be raised for a Route 53 extension by “adjusting tolls on the north Tri-State Tollway (I-94) and tolling the existing Illinois Route 53 from Lake Cook Road to the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90.”

Other general recommendations include creating a transportation system “that preserves the environment and nearby communities and enhances connectivity”; designing a “context sensitive” roadway; respecting and preserving the land; establishing an “innovative funding plan for an innovative roadway”; and creating a corridor plan and implementation strategy.

Tollway officials announced last summer that the Route 53 proposal, which has been under some form of consideration for the last half-century, would be subject to an advisory process to “explore design and planning options. (The) tollway will look to the advisory council to develop a consensus on the project and recommend a series of best practices for an integrated, multi-modal corridor that is financially viable, environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.”

Some $100 million was included in last year’s $12 billion, 15-year capital plan to study new roadway concepts, including not only Route 53 but also a would be “Iliana” expressway south of Chicago. No funds have been committed to actual design or construction at this point.

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