Columnist Diana Kuyper
Updated: August 5, 2011 2:30AM
When I cover a meeting or hearing I try to present an unbiased view of what transpired. I succeed most of the time, but last week’s community advisory group meeting to discuss the Millburn bypass has me seeing red.
The project aligns Grass Lake and Millburn roads, and moves Route 45 west to bypass the Millburn Historic District. The bypass cuts off the eastern border of the McDonald Woods Forest Preserve, continues north through Forest Trail subdivision, and along the east border of Heritage Trails Subdivision to rejoin Route 45 by Millburn West School.
Just a glance at the map taking the bypass west through Lindenhurst shows a four-lane highway through McDonald Woods and neighboring Forest Trail, cutting it in two. The route passes along the east side of Heritage Trails, creating a huge noise and traffic impact on a quiet residential community.
It’s not only the decision to take the bypass west through residential subdivisions and near a grade school that I find appalling. It’s the attitude of the decision-makers that appears to disregard the impact it has on Lindenhurst residents.
Lake County Department of Transportation staff and the engineering consultants appeared to be cavalier and dismissive about the concerns of residents who make up the advisory panel that has been reviewing bypass options for two years.
While LCDOT and consultants emphasized traffic flow and preserving a deteriorating historic district, they did not even touch on the impact on residents, their quality of life and their property values.
“Why would county, state and federal officials build a road that the CAG and the community do not want?” asks CAG member and Millburn Historic District resident Ray Boller.
I was shocked by the lack of concern about the most human and personal issues involved in this decision. For the residents of Forest Trail and Heritage Trails subdivisions, it is life-changing.
CAG member Bob Holbach said: “The CAG experience has been an exercise in futility. We were told that the public’s opinion would matter. In reality, it didn’t.”
Forest Trail resident Richard Samsel summed it up very simply. “This is horrible. This will be a mess for Lindenhurst residents. It is the wrong thing to do. After finding very little functional difference between east and west bypass routes, why would they select the west alternative that hurts so many people?”
There are still some hoops to jump through before this is a done deal, including a series of environmental, noise and traffic studies, and a public hearing to follow later this year after the studies are complete.
In the meantime, take a look at A4, the final bypass choice made by county, state and federal highway officials at www.millburnbypassstudy.com/publicinvolvement.
Diana Kuyper’s column appears Fridays. You can e-mail her at email@example.com.