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Grassroot group cheers one Illiana vote, braces for another

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Virginia Hamann says CMAP advisory vote was a ‘huge step.’

Members of a bi-state grassroots group opposed to the proposed toll way between Wilmington, Illinois and Crown Point, Indiana are applauding the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning‘s vote against funding the project.

CMAP’s 10-4 vote to exclude the Illiana Tollway from its Go To 2040 long-range transportation plan “is a huge step in our favor,” said No Illiana 4 Us member Virginia Hamann.

Hamann, a Peotone-area dairy farmer, said CMAP’s advisory vote not to list the Illiana among regional infrastructure projects that should be funded sets the stage for more lobbying by opponents.

Hamann is calling on other members of her organization to lobby the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is scheduled to vote Thursday, Oct. 17 on the issue. It originally was also scheduled to vote Wednesday.

The MPO, the decision-making body for regional transportation plans and programs, needs a supermajority of 12 votes to add the toll way to the 2040 plan.

“Now we have to get 10 of the 19 votes next week at the MPO Policy Committee,” Hamann said in an email to No Illiana 4 Us members.

State Rep Elgie Sims
in Peotone Saturday
Members of the grassroots group also hope to discuss the issue with State Rep. Elgie Sims, who is scheduled to visit the Peotone Village Hall from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Opposition grows
Once the lone opponent, the No Illiana 4 Us group has picked up some politically heavy allies. The Chicago Tribune, which editorialized in September against the roadway, predicted Wednesday that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appointees to CMAP would vote against the Illiana in the vote later that day.

Robert Howard

Robert Howard

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also opposes the project, which has lost the support of early advocate Mike Einhorn. The Crete mayor says its location would do little to alleviate congestion on Interstate 80 or help his village’s fledgling intermodal developments.

Illinois Department of Transportation plans place the Illiana’s east-west right of way more than 20 miles south of the interstate and at least seven miles south of Crete.

Will County board still supports
But advocates include the Will County board, which voted in September to formally ask CMAP to include the Illiana Roadway on its fiscally constrained major capital project list.

County Board Member Robert Howard, D-Beecher, presented the resolution in his role as chairman of the board’s legislative and policy committee. Howard is one of two county board members representing Eastern Will County. Judy Ogalla, R-Monee, opposes the Illiana.

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