Wetlands Impacts Aerial Photos

Let's Get Moving!

There are practical, cost-effective solutions to some of our worst traffic problems. The October 24th People's Rally showed examples of how simple intersection fixes have worked, illustrated the impacts of the Rt 53 extension, and demonstrated other measures that can make a difference in our communities - and for our environment. 

The Crossroads Study


Smart Transportation Options for Lake County

"Lake County would achieve greater traffic relief by improving existing local roads and abandoning the Route 53 tollway proposal."
Click Here!Spring 2009 Rt. 53 Threat Looms
Click Here! Rt. 53 Extension Still Horrible Idea
Click Here! W&W News: Tollway’s Strategy for Sprawl Extensions
Click Here! W&W News: Route 53 Environmental Impact Statement Misleading
Click Here! ELPC Draft Environmental Impact Statement Comments
Click Here! W&W Draft Environmental Impact Statement Comments
Click Here! W&W Transportation Resolution
Click Here! Letter: W&W Testimony to Lake Forest
Click Here! County Board Members to Ryan
Click Here! Point of View: Dave Schults on Rt. 53, Waukegan News Sun
Click Here! LTE: Computers and Tollways
Click Here! LTE: LCTIP News Misleading on Environmental Impacts
Click Here! Letter: W&W Supports 1999 HB2800: ISTHA/IDOT Accountability


Separating Fact From Fiction

The Route 53 Extension is shrouded in myth and hearsay. How do we citizens decide whether it is the best solution for our community's transportation problems? Below is a guide, and a MAP showing the Proposed Route, to help sort out the confusing information we are bombarded with daily.

If built, FAP 342 will destroy 69 Lake County wetlands, several of which are known to provide habitat for endangered species. Considering this, and the information presented below, your Sierra Club leaders have given opposition to Rt. 53 top priority, and are actively promoting Alternative solutions. As you travel through the open space in the center of our Lake County, watch for small green signs that say "FAP 342" and imagine a major toll highway there.

Will FAP 342 Help Your Town?
The Route 53 Tollway is inevitable.  The Route 53 Tollway is dead. The Executive Director of the Toll Authority has admitted that the Route 53 Tollway is not in the agency’s new 10-Year plan or even its long-range plans because the Toll Authority does not have the money to build it.
Besides, the Tollway has been on the books for nearly 40 years, and for most of that time, it was a non-issue, or a political football. Plans for it were stopped in 1970 because the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) realized that it could not met the National Environmental Policy Act requirement, and because Lake County found that building FAP 342 was contrary to desired land use plans. In 1993 the Illinois General Assembly authorized the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (ISTHA) to fund four new tollways. The environmental impact study, which must be done before any authorization to build the extension is given, has just been drafted and shows that 53 would destroy more wetlands. 
The Route 53 extension will relieve traffic congestion.  FAP 342 will not relieve severe congestion on most routes traveled by Lake County residents. In the May 1996 issue of "Extensions," the newsletter of IDOT and ISTHA, officials state, "It is not our intent to build our way out of congestion, given funding constraints and impacts caused by widening roadways. This would be an unending strategy." Findings reached by Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) in conjunction with IDOT and ISTHA show that traffic volumes would skyrocket on some of Lake County's busiest roads under the plan to extend Rt. 53
Road  Traffic Increase in Tollway's first 10 Years 
Route 120  Up to 119% above current levels 
Route 83  Up to 98% above current levels 
Route 137  Up to 80% above current levels 
Route 21  Up to 103% above current levels 
Route 60/83  Up to 75% above current levels 
Only those living on the proposed right-of-way will be affected by the Route 53 tollway. All Lake County citizens, whether they live near the road or miles away, will experience the effects of Route 53. While more studies are being done to understand the full impact of the Route 53 extension, here are a few from studies already conducted: 
Our Health  Studies have documented a 6 fold increases in childhood leukemia, and cancer corridors near highways. A CATS brochure also states that increased ground level ozone from cars and trucks is particularly dangerous to those with heart ailments, respiratory problems, those who work or exercise outside, children and the elderly. 
Our Environment and Drinking Water   The extension and accompanying development would pave over hundreds of acres of land throughout Lake County, including vital wetlands. Some homes and businesses near the tollroad depend on well water. Wetlands recharge these underground water supplies. The tollroad would cut through numerous wetlands and provide a potential path for pollutants, such as salt runoff from the tollroad, to reach our drinking water. 
Flooding  Rainwater that is now absorbed by the land or stored in wetlands would be diverted to existing waterways, such as the Des Plaines River, which is already prone to flooding.. 
Our Driving Patterns  Findings by Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) in conjunction with ISTHA and IDOT show that traffic congestion will increase on Lake County's busiest roads making commutes longer. 
Our Schools  Our already overcrowded schools will suffer as more families move into the area adding more students to each class. 
The Route 53 extension will shorten commuting times. During rush hours, we can expect the usual bumper-to-bumper traffic experienced on all the area tollroads. Any travel time that might be saved on the north-south Route 53 would be offset by time lost on congested roads leading to and from the tollway. Besides, because the new toll road does not access the areas where most trips either originate, or terminate, it cannot help shorten commuting times in the Eastern half of Lake County. 
Route 53 will bring industrial businesses on the borders of our rural communities, not more residential development. The extension will definitely spur industrial development. We've already seen the USA Waste expansion of the Countryside Landfill and a Skokie Valley asphalt batch plant eager to be located near Grayslake because of the promise of Route 53.While it is now cheaper for businesses to be located in Lake County instead of Cook County because of our lower property taxes, increased development along a new Route 53 extension will raise our property taxes. As we become more like Cook and DuPage counties, businesses may move farther north into Wisconsin where taxes are lower and the cost of housing more affordable for employees. Route 53 will accelerate Lake County into sprawl, and encourage migration to Wisconsin.


This link shows realtime road congestion around the area. You can avoid congestion by taking METRA, Pace, and/or  CTA.

FAP 342

Studies have shown that the Route 53 Tollway will cause less damage to the environment and to homes than other alternatives.  Those "studies" have been circulated by LCTIP, the Rt 53 promotional campaign funded by IDOT and ISTHA with your money, and have now been proved misleading by their own draft EIS. The Route 53 Tollway would destroy more acres of Lake County Forest Preserve land and wetlands than any of the possible alternatives. In particular, the Route 53 Tollway would negatively impact 6,942 acres of water resources, 269 acres of natural areas and 5,477 acres of recreational areas. The draft EIS considers only wetlands directly in the corridor of the extension. It also draws no distinction between wetlands already impacted by roads, and pristine wetland systems that Rt 53 would decimate. The new road would then invite even more sprawl into this sensitive wetland region. Moreover, the Toll Authority has never studied the impact of tollway runoff on water in private wells, the flooding likely to be caused by the addition of the tollway, or the decrease in property values to homes near the tollway.
The Route 53 extension will not affect the air quality in Lake County because of tough standards for vehicle emissions. The Chicago metropolitan area, including the area of the 53 extension has been designated as a severe ozone non-attainment area, according to the May, 1996 issue of IDOT's "Extensions". In January, 1997, IDOT wrote, "The introduction of cleaner motor vehicle technology has dramatically reduced the amount of Carbon Monoxide (CO) and other emissions from 1970 levels. However, increases in auto usage could offset these gains early in the next century if vehicle usage continues to increase." With traffic increases as predicted from 75% to 119% over current levels, we have increased carbon monoxide in our air. The shift from fuel efficient cars to polluting SUV's has driven current levels even higher. In addition, a 1997 study in the Journal of Epidemiological and Community Health showed a cancer corridor within 3 miles of highways, airports, and other major polluters. Another study, from the Denver metro area, shows that children living near highways with 20,000 or more vehicles per day are six times more likely to develop childhood leukemia. Is this the legacy we want to leave to our children and grandchildren? 
Outside companies will pay for improvements in our communities, not the resident taxpayers. Money will be needed to pay for the infrastructure to support industry, including water, sewer and improved local roads for truck traffic. Currently the impact fees collected from developers are only a small percentage of the money needed to accommodate these businesses. As workers move closer to their jobs, there will be increased demand for housing and increased burden on local school districts. That money will eventually come from taxpayers who must foot the bill for overcrowding. 
The Illinois Tollway Highway Authority (ISTHA) is a government body working to meet the transportation needs of Illinois citizens. The Lake County Transporation Project, LCTIP, is a Lake County effort to improve transportation. In a public meeting, a representative of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority stated that their first concern was to their bondholders. ISTHA is an agency that oversees the operation and maintenance of Illinois tollroads only. While, by law, the Illinois General Assembly controls the agency's powers, ISTHA is run like a business. It does not have control over non-tollroads and its operating money comes from the sale of bonds and from the tolls we pay to ride on its roads. ISTHA is not accountable to the general public. To stay in business, it must continue to build tollroads, whether they are needed or not and whether the roads will pay for themselves or not. Over the years, the press has exposed many breaches of ethics and mismanagement of funds on the part of the Tollway Authority. While the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) handles the building and maintenance of other non-tollroads, IDOT will build Route 53 in conjunction with ISTHA. 
The Lake County Transportation Project was created by ISTHA and funded by IDOT to promote Rt. 53. It is run by the PR firm Hill & Knowlton, infamous for their promotion of cigarettes. LCTIP is not sanctioned by Lake County, and since one of its goals since inception was to marginalize the voices of Sierra Club and other environmental groups, their events systematically eliminate opportunities for grassroots participation.
The Illinois Department of Transporation (IDOT) has no money to widen our existing roads, so ISTHA has to build the Tollway to meet our transportation needs While IDOT claims it has no money to widen our roads, it has purchased at least $26 million worth of land with Illinois' taxpayers' money for use as right-of-way for the Route 53 extension alone. It has also purchased land for the extension of I-355 in Will County. IDOT has been buying property for this purpose for the past 20-30 years. This land has continued to appreciate in value since IDOT bought it and represents a generous taxpayer gift to ISTHA if, as state law explicitly allows, IDOT gives it to ISTHA FREE OF CHARGE. If FAP 342 is not built, IDOT will not need the land, and it must sell it for no less than the market value of such property. This money could be used to widen and improve existing roads rather than building a tollroad which is estimated to recoup less than one-third of its cost. 
Much of the land, however, is wetlands. Rather than destroying them with a tollway, we think that IL should preserve them in perpetuity.
Only those using the Route 53 extension will pay for it. Every motorist who uses any tollroad in Illinois would pay for the extension of Route 53. ISTHA would fund Route 53 with the sale of bonds, and with revenues collected on its existing roads--including the Tri-State, North-West, and East-West Tollways; roads which have paid for themselves at least five times over. For several years running, we have supported legislation requiring that new tollways pay for at least 75% of their cost with their own tolls. The tollway opposes this because they know 53 would not be justified.
The tolls we pay are going to ISTHA's bondholders, and are more than consumed by the looming need to rebuild much of the present tollways. However, in spite of the fact that it has no plan to raise the necessary runs to fix the present system, ISTHA continues to insist on running without legislative oversight. 

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