Lake County will be asking voters to approve a half percent sales tax
increase on April 5 to support its proposed Road Improvement Program. After
careful review, W&W has decided to take a neutral position and offer our members
a list of pros and cons, and some perspective. This was a difficult decision for
the group's Executive Committee.
Improvements we have supported for years.
The county's proposed Program offers several improvements that we have
supported in the context of an improved transportation system for years:
- Intersection improvements: Congestion on many of our local roads is
exacerbated by back-ups waiting for left and right turners. Turn lanes can go
a long way to reduce these bottlenecks, and reduce air pollution from idling
SUVs, trucks and cars.
- Intelligent Transportation System: Considering the money we pay for
traffic controls already, it's maddening that coordination of traffic lights
lacks the intelligence of a video game. The program promises ITS to help you
make all the lights on traffic corridors in the area east of Rt. 94, and holds
promise for making buses more efficient and attractive by giving them the
green too. However, with the budget cuts threatened for mass transit by
Illinois, it's unclear whether there will be many PACE or CTA buses around to
- Focus on strategic regional arterials: About 40% of the roads
included on the county's program were included in ELPC's Crossroads plan. The
Crossroads Plan offered a superior congestion relief alternative to the sprawl
and congestion that Rt. 53 would cause, and included expanded mass transit
linked with improved SRAs. This Program offers incremental progress on this
- A rail underpass at Rt. 60 and the WI Central: With more trains
needed, and more coming when double tracking of this route is complete, more
grade separations like this one proposed near Butterfield Rd. make lots of
Unfortunately, there are many signs that the money could be spent in a zero
sum game. While road improvements are definitely needed across the county, every
transportation study that neglects mass transit improvements and the true costs
of sprawl predicts more congestion, not less. We won't beat traffic in Lake
County by building more of the same. We need a different approach that directs
growth away from open space and grows vibrant communities that pollute less.
How Lake County misses the mark
- No Mass Transit: Lopsided transportation
plan. Aside from the underpass and possibilities of ITS, this plan lacks any
commitment to the more efficient ways to grow and get around. Money is needed
for expanded parking and improved METRA stations, for extended and expanded rail
service, and more buses. This is crucial to break away from the vicious circle
of chasing bad development with roads that cause it, and instead encourage
development around transit.
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- County money for state roads: About half of the county's Program is
for state roads that the state already plans to improve. And the other half is
for state roads that are presently not planned for improvement. Why isn't the
state paying for our state roads? We are concerned that the failure of Lake
County legislators to bring home state transportation funds will get worse if
Springfield considers this sales tax a new revenue source for the state
transportation budget. With an austere budget, attempts by Springfield to
reallocate dedicated funding sources have become common.
Lake County has a great need, but gets less than other collar counties that
need less. Last year Will County, which has a freeway, bypasses developer
impact fees, and also shares our plight of no gas tax, took home $135M more
state transportation dollars than Lake County.
We believe this is because the attention of our legislators is divided between
growing a sensible transportation system, and the efforts of a few misguided
legislators who perennially attempt to grab money for the environmentally
devastating Rt. 53 boondoggle. While Rt. 53 is no longer in the state's
transportation plan, the hew and cry from those hoping it will relieve the
congestion caused by sprawl is just as shrill now as ever. At a recent Village
Board meeting where the county presented its program, the Mayor of Vernon
Hills even sought to divert some of these referendum funds directly to Rt. 53.
Unless they stop fighting about 53, it's likely that these sales tax funds
will be siphoned off as offsets to other counties as well.
- Weak promises: The referendum does not bind the county to the
Program it proposes. If it passes, the program will change as projects are
found to be less feasible or more attractive, and as intense lobbying occurs.
Only when the tax revenues are used to back loans will the money be committed
to specific projects, and the program puts that off for several years. This
sales tax is expected to raise at least $500M, and we think it should be more
committed to a more balanced system.
- Ignores other funding: Other counties and smart villages charge
developers impact fees. These raise road revenues, and encourage more compact
development patterns that conserve open space. Lake County could but does not.
The Program also makes no mention of money available as generous Congestion
Mitigation / Air Quality grants from the federal government that could account
for 50% of the Program funding. Absent also is an accounting for any
contribution by the municipalities where ITS will be implemented. Altogether
these could double the available funds, leaving half of the money unaccounted
for by the Program. These oversights further highlight the question of how the
money will be spent, and raise the question why the county is asking for a
half percent rather than the amount sought with no Program in its last
There have been a lot of hasty road plans recently, including the Tollway's
Rt. 355 Extension plan and its toll hikes which are pushing trucks onto Rt. 41,
and they ignore the effects on the air and our health. We need transportation
system improvements that put us on a track toward more sensible and sustainable
development. If this Transportation Sales Tax Referendum passes, we hope that
efforts are pursued to address these remaining concerns.
Join Our Free E-mail Lists!
Members are invited to join the W&W group's e-mail lists. On the ALERTS
list you will receive infrequent timely posts from the Group Chair (only),
primarily on local issues. Some of these appear on this website, and if
you subscribe you will learn about them in time to help. The ISSUES list
allows you to share in a discussion with other W&Wers. To sign up,
just visit each of these websites and click Join :
We do not share e-mail address lists, and you can remove yourself from either list at any time.
Join the Conservation Committee!
By Larry Marvet
As your incoming Conservation Chair, let me introduce
myself. My environmental interests have always focused on conservation issues,
like protecting wetlands and wildlife. I started by walking Ft. Lauderdale
beaches from 11 pm to 2 am to help nesting sea turtles. (My legs still hurt from
that.) The Everglades needed help - and still does - so I joined with some great
activists to help a little, and learn a lot.
Two children and a move from
tropical Florida to arctic Chicago slowed me down for a few years, but Bush
environmental policy and idling bulldozers at my local forest preserve have
If you are reading this article, you didn't join Sierra Club to improve
your resume. At the least, you want to learn about environmental issues in your
area and beyond. And, perhaps, you've wondered what you can do help.
That is what the Conservation Committee is about.
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We'll meet on the 4th Wednesday of
each month to discuss local, state and national environmental issues, or issues
you bring to the meetings. And we'll talk about ways to act on those issues from
phone calls - to letter writing - to Congressional meetings - to whatever
creative ideas we can come up with.
Come and just listen at our little
meeting, or to lobby on Capitol Hill - or anything in between. Knowledge is the
best weapon we have in these days of clever spin and newspeak. If you want to
make a difference, please join us on:
Wednesday, March 23, 7pm
College of Lake County
Southlake Educational Center
1120 S Milwaukee Ave, Room l04
This is a brown brick building about 0.2 miles north of Route 45 on the west
side of Milwaukee Avenue. Park in the back.
Metra to Milwaukee
Cleaner air, less traffic and less sprawl
Six southeast Wisconsin counties and cities are working together to develop a
33-mile extension of the Chicago Metra Union Pacific North rail line. It will
use upgraded existing rail to connect northeastern Illinois and Chicago to the
Wisconsin communities of Kenosha, Somers, Racine, Caledonia, Oak Creek, South
Milwaukee, Cudahy and Milwaukee (Amtrak station).
The Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) Metra commuter train extension is an
attractive transportation plan that will:
- Provide modern, efficient, reliable connection to a multitude of
world-class employment and educational opportunities - and cultural,
entertainment and recreation destinations to the north.
- Provide a fast, reliable, easy, and affordable alternative to congested
highway travel, and is less subject to weather and construction delays. It
will use existing rail right-of-way.
- Be accessible and a practical alternative for commuting with 362,100 jobs
and 540,000 residents projected within 3 miles of the proposed stations in
Wisconsin. Three out of Wisconsin's five largest cities are on the KRM route.
Milwaukee is the 19th largest city in the U.S.
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- Cut down on traffic by offering more transportation options. KRM commuter
rail extension is projected to reduce cars on I-94 north of the Illinois
border by up to 12 %.
- Cut air pollution. Most rail-ridership will be diverted from autos, which
cause 75% of our hazardous air pollution.
- Reduce sprawl by directing future development to existing communities
around transit stops. Commuter trains encourage transit-oriented development,
resulting in communities that are more efficiently served by transit.
|The sensible solution to the problems of sprawl and traffic
is to expand our transportation choices.
The sensible solution to the problems of sprawl and traffic is to expand our
transportation choices. More travel choices can reduce traffic congestion and
air pollution, promote neighborhood economic opportunities, and help to control
sprawl. It also helps to build safer, more vibrant communities.
Find information and updates at
www.transitnow.org or by
phoning Transit NOW at 262-246-6151.
New W&W Public Meetings
Recently, some of our W&W members have begun coming to ExCom Meetings and
asking, "So where's everybody else?" Willing to wait their turn on the
agenda, they come to ask when and where the group's Public Meetings are, and a
few volunteered to find a meeting spot and time where we can invite all our
members to come together.
The new W&W Public Meetings will be held monthly on every Third Tuesday
April 19, 7:00 pm
Fremont Township Office
22376 W. Erhart
intersection of Peterson and Rt. 60
The highlight of the meetings will be a 45 minute information session
presented by a specialist, with an opportunity for members to get involved to
make a difference.
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We'll have some time to meet other members and talk
about where we've been - and where we'd like to go - and give leaders a chance
to make short announcements. Those with kids or work the next morning should be
able to get home by 9:30 unless they stick around to discuss the evening's
topics and help clean up.
Initial topics might include:
- Restore the Nippersink,
- Coyotes Next Door,
- Midewin: TNT Factory to Tall Grass Prairie,
- Journey to The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,
- The Redrock Wilderness, Photographing Nature,
- Wildlife Rehabilitation
- or a topic of popular demand
For the night's special topic, check Meetings.
email@example.com if you have topic that you think others
will want to know about.
This is for you. Come have fun.
Woods & Wetlands Outings
Thanks to all those who took our online Outing survey in January. After
studying the results, the new W&W Outings Committee has surged ahead, planning
several outings that we're now sure you'll enjoy!
Those who have signed onto the Outings e-mail list, and those of you
who keep track of the W&W Group activity through the website got first crack at
these outings, but it's not too late for those reading this W&W News to sign up.
Here is a brief list of the outings at press time:
April 2, Saturday 10:00 a.m.
Arctic Photo Exhibit at Field Museum,
Stunning exhibition of photographs by Subankkar BanerjeečArctic
National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land. We'll see the exhibit and
have lunch. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847-680-6437.
|To learn more about these outings and join the outings list
visit the Outings page.
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April 28-May 1, Thursday-Sunday
Hiking Shawnee by Amtrak,
Chicago to Carbondale
Daily hikes from local lodging will include box canyon, pine
forest, and Camp Hutchins Proposed Wilderness during the spring wildflower and
migratory bird fantasia. Estimated cost of $300 includes train from Chicago,
rental carpool, single lodging and meals. Camp sites available. E-mail
email@example.com or call 847-680-6437.
May 22, Sunday 10:45 am
Hike Camp Sagawau,
The only way to see the only canyon in Cook Countyča tour guided
by Cook County Forest Preserve staff. Bring your own brunch. $3. Contact
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847-367-4253.
June 18, Saturday
Fox River Day Canoe Trip,
Chain O' Lakes State Park
Bring picnic lunch and meet at 11:30 am. Canoeing basics
overview for beginners. Rent canoes from the concessionaire at the boat launch.
Cost per canoe is $11 /4 hour trip. E-mail email@example.com or
call 847-526-8409 after April 1.
PDA Readable W&W News
Here's a handy version of this issue of the
News in pdf that reads well on a PDA (Portable Data Assistant, a.k.a "Palm
Pilot"). It's 265kB and you'll need the Adobe Acrobat translator to prepare it
for synchronization with your PDA. If you want to give a
copy to a friend who has a PDA, we suggest beaming it over. Another option for
taking this on your PDA is
AvantGo, a free
service that lets you download and synch web pages with your PDA. Just have it
synch this one from
If you need a paper version to give a copy to a friend who
doesn't have internet access, you can either print this webpage (8
pages) or the pdf (10 pages).
Group Chair to discuss the issue and how much space to take, or send your
finished article directly to our
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