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Bus riders account for more than 20 percent of people using Lake Shore Drive every day while taking up a fraction of the space that cars do.

Illiana Tollway boondoggle moving ahead – for now

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The votes have been cast, but this battle is far from over.

On October 9, the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) Policy Committee, which oversees and approves federal funding in the state, voted to move the GO TO 2040 regional plan forward with the Illiana Expressway still included.

This followed a vote a day earlier by the board of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) not to approve the regional plan because it still includes the politically charged Illiana.

Active Trans joined several other regional advocacy organizations and residents in testifying against the Illiana at both meetings because it conflicts with the stated sustainability and efficiency goals of GO TO 2040. Not to mention the $1.1 billion project cost will likely largely be passed on to taxpayers to fund this “public-private partnership” over the next 40 years.

CMAP, based on its own staff’s research and analysis, anticipates that the tolls will be too high to attract the truck traffic needed to adequately fund the project – likely forcing the cost onto taxpayers. The Illiana will also take precedence over many other critical transportation projects, leaving behind needed improvements to existing public transit and commuter rail systems.

The fate of the project is now likely in the hands of courts. Leading Chicago environmental groups have partnered in a lawsuit to block the project, challenging the legality of the Policy Committee’s approval and the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) authority to move forward. With a gubernatorial election on the horizon, there are still many unresolved questions about the ill-conceived tollway.

This blog post was written by Roxanne Bertrand, Active Trans' Advocacy Intern

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