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Grayslake Favors Route 53

Grayslake Trustee Bruce Bassett calls the plans to extend Route 53 into Lake County "a historic consensus."

The time has come to officially approve plans to extend Route 53 into Lake County, say many local officials. The much debated roadway now has several supporters behind a compromised proposal for it.

This would be an entirely "different kind of road," said Grayslake Trustee Bruce Bassett, in a statement to the Illinois Tollway Authority Board about the design of the proposed Route 53 extension into Lake County.

The road would be "environmentally focused, visionary and sustainable," Bassett said. As proposed, the extension would be a four-lane highway with speeds limited to 45 miles per hour in order to reduce noise and environmental impacts.

Bassett, a 20-year Lake County resident, said he believes it is time - finally - to approve the plans for Route 53.

He said the road design was developed in conjunction with the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council, which is chaired by Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman and civic leader George Ranney.

"We, along with the region, will benefit a great deal from the road the report describes," Bassett said.

. It would be developed in coordination with local governments. Funding options may include adjusting tolls on I-94 and adding tolls to the existing Illinois Route 53 from Lake-Cook Road to I-90.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the price tag for the proposed Route 53 extension is estimated at $1.9 billion to $2.5 billion. Stolman and Ranney recently presented the group's report to the Illinois Tollway board, with input from local leaders like Bassett, who gave comments on behalf of Grayslake Mayor Rhett Taylor and the Grayslake trustees.

Support for the Route 53 extension has grown to include state and local officials, community leaders, construction workers, envirnmentalists and others. They are presenting a unified voice to the Illinois Tollway Authority Board to plead for the road to be built as part of the tollway system for traffic relief, job creation and economic development.

Route 53 has been debated for more than 30 years. Opponents continue to question how to fund the road and how to protect the surrounding environment. Bassett said the proposed highway addresses the majority of concerns on all sides.

"If the past years have taught us anything, it is that Route 53 can only be extended by compromise: it's not my way or the highway, but it is this environmentally focused, new model highway, or no highway at all," Bassett said. "But this road will enhance the value of the system, of the roads you have already built. This is not just compromise, it is a consensus - a historic consensus. If this is not built, nothing will ever be."

Bill Morris July 06, 2012 at 01:37 PM
No one questions the proposed compromise design for rt. 53 would be more environmentally friendly. However, before everyone goes out and purchases an I Pass to use the new road, they all, especially public officials, need to recognize the road will not be built in the near future. THERE IS NO MONEY TO BUILD THE ROAD IN THE TOLLWAY'S MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR 15 YEAR CAPITAL PLAN. Unfortunately Rt. 53, which has been in the planning stages for over 50 years, will cost as much as $2-billion and even the Blue Ribbon Committee came up literally billions short in ways to fund the roadway. The proposed 20-cent per mile toll would cost I Pass holders more than $5 per day for the round trip from Grayslake to Lake Cook Road and further they are propsoing a special tax on all residents of Lake County to pay for the tollroad when no other tollroad or expressway in Illinois has a special local tax to pay for it. Both the 20-cent per mile toll, three times higher than the tolls for folks from Rockford, Joliet, Aurora is unfair and making Lake County pay a spcial tax no other county pays is even more unfair. Bill Morris Former Member of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority Board
LMJ July 06, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Bill, this was a very insightful comment. Job plans have to be funded, and we all need to ask who pays for them and how they are sustained. As well as which companies get the contracts to do them and do they somehow roll back to the government.
Nightcrawler July 06, 2012 at 05:17 PM
I've said it repeatedly. There's a bigger story here no one is investigating.
Local July 06, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Take a ride on 53 some weekday during rush hour and ask yourself, is this what I want in Grayslake? Traffic here is bad, there is no arguement there, but look at the congestion and overdevolpment that follows Route 53. Thank god there is no money to build this!!
Bob Miaples July 06, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Bill, there is no money because they haven't allocated funds for the project. First they get consensus, then they do studies, then they allocate funds and then they build.
Brad Faxton July 06, 2012 at 10:35 PM
I've lived in GL for more than 10 yrs and the traffic coming from the western burbs here is horrible. There have been studies, fake votes, proposed this and that. I think if anything happens, it will be ~5-10yrs from now before a shovel is put in the ground. Shocking toll structure too. Eeek.
Evan Craig July 07, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Stop the Tax Increase! Raising sales and gas taxes on everybody to fund the 53 extension boondoggle with high tolls is a DOA proposal. They want new tolls in Cook County and even higher tolls on I-94 too. Why didn't Stolman put that in his phony referendum question? It's time to ask these politicians running for office about all these new taxes. Stolman and his supporters say they intend to keep courting more road-dependent development (with more tax breaks) and expect us to pay for the destructive extension of Rt. 53 to serve even more of it in the future. How is that "sustainable," Mr. Bassett? This article overstates the weak "consensus" declared by the Blue Ribbon Committee. The deal struck by a few environmental groups was not to build 53, but to continue to study whether it in fact could be built as promised - a promise that included a new protective law. Then there are the major environmental groups (ELPC, CNT, Sierra Club, NRDC, MHCD, RHA, ...) that see the shoddy studies done in the past, and the inability to pay for those proposals during economic boom years, and wisely refused to deal with the 53 devil now. The BRC determined that the extension would impact more acres than in all of our Forest Preserves combined. Congress just voted to eliminate the NEPA public accountability requirement for road builders - what they call "streamlining." The BRC promised more accountability, not less. It’s just happy talk. There are better solutions. Let's get moving!

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