Improve roads or keep natural habitats?
Updated: April 2, 2012 8:10AM
Much has been written lately about the most recent discussions regarding roadways in the area. Traffic logjams, bad road conditions, expansion to ease congestion versus preservation of natural habitats. The subject might quiet down for periods of time, but it never goes away. It often takes decades to resolve, and there’s always someone unhappy with the chosen solution.
Take, as example, the widening of Route 22 through Lincolnshire, over which they fought tooth and nail, citing many reasons. I, like so many others, understood some of their viewpoint, but I also knew I hated sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic and adding way too much drive time for the miles covered. An argument was the negative impact on the homes along Route 22, but I often thought it was a moot point as to whether it was more desirable to have a four-lane road with traffic that moved through the area more quickly, or to have a two-lane with a virtual parking lot of bored gawkers in cars slowly edging past your home. In other words, neither seems ideal and both set-ups probably argue the merit of choosing your home’s location wisely.
The latest roadways up for discussion are the proposed expansion of Route 45 through Vernon Hills, Mundelein and beyond, as well as the fabled Route 53 extension north through Lake County. Voices seem to be calmer regarding the Route 45 expansion, with less housing along much of the roadway and the continued traffic back-ups every afternoon. Most everyone agrees that expansion is a warranted improvement with not much downside, with the worst part being the extended wait to actually begin work.
As for Route 53, however, differing voices with strong opinions on both sides have provoked a cacophonic symphony of disagreement. And once again, I “get” both sides. Currently there is no efficient way to get from the Long Grove area where the 53 roadway ends to the northern portion of the county, and that is the proposal’s purported goal. To get to Grayslake, Gurnee and northern Lake, it’s a zigzag pattern of side roads, none of which do residents love that drivers frequent, and main roads, all of which are clogged to capacity. In the old days, those communities were small and limited in the number of people wanting to get there, but things have changed and many are now dynamic communities in their own right.
So, the question becomes, does expansion of the roadway bring about natural destruction, not only in the actual construction but in the further development that seems to follow along the highway? Or is the reverse true, road expansion is necessary due to the population expansion? And with all the time before any bulldozer digs dirt, can’t we figure out a way to accommodate both opinions? What do you think?
Send email to Pat Lenhoff at: firstname.lastname@example.org