The Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) supports the Illinois Tollway Board’s decision to advance the proposed Route 53/120 Extension project through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). ILEPI recently released a project analysis which found that demographic and economic trends convincingly argue for this next important step in the process.
As the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has noted, the regions that would be most directly affected by this project are growing faster than the Chicago area as a whole. With traffic congestion already posing problems for commuters and with limited and north-south corridors, the Route 53/120 Extension project could reduce commute times by between 21 percent and 31 percent– translating to thousands of dollars in travel time savings for the average family each year. In addition to creating 5,000 middle-class jobs during the construction phase, the project could create thousands more over the long run by attracting more businesses and investment to the region.
Transportation improvements aimed at supporting growth and reducing congestion in Lake and McHenry Counties– including the proposed Route 53/120 Extension– have been under consideration for several decades. The process to date has included substantial dialogue among many community stakeholders in an effort to identify potentially viable land use and financing options. The EIS passed by the Illinois Tollway today will build upon this foundation in several important ways by examining both the potential impacts and benefits of each option– including state of the art, eco-friendly highway construction, expansion of existing arterial infrastructure, or no new construction at all.
As a statewide organization that provides dynamic analyses on major subjects affecting the economies of Illinois and the Midwest, ILEPI applauds today’s 8-0 vote to move the Route 53/120 Extension project forward. An effective regional transportation network must guarantee access to jobs, schools, hospitals, and other public services. It must ensure that businesses can deliver products to markets and must be of high quality such that businesses can stay competitive in the U.S. and global marketplaces. The proposed Route 53/120 extension project would provide these positive benefits to the Chicago region.