By Anna Lothson
Oak Parkers who spoke at the September meeting about the I-290 Expressway project were split on their opinions about what needs to be done to better the aging roadway and the people its congestion impacts.
More than 100 residents showed up to hear an update from Oak Park leaders, a local transportation expert and a CTA representative, but on Oct. 29 there will be another chance for people to hear about the project — this time from Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider, the highest ranking state highway official.
Schneider will be at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, 325 S. Kenilworth Ave. from 7:30-9 p.m. The meeting was arranged by State Sen. Don Harmon so residents could hear directly from Schneider, who was appointed IDOT Secretary in 2011 by Gov. Pat Quinn.
"This project has been talked about for years. But we are now at a critical juncture, hammering out project details that will affect the life of our community for decades to come," Harmon wrote in a news release. "I want to be sure that Oak Park's voice is heard, and that our community has an additional opportunity to learn the details and shape future plans to the greatest extent possible."
"We already have had an impact on the project by ensuring that any reconfiguration of the expressway will remain in the existing footprint—something that was not guaranteed when we started project discussions—and that potential future westward extension of the CTA Blue Line is included in the final plan," he continued.
Audience members will be able to ask questions about the agency's proposed alternatives for reconfiguring lanes along a stretch of the Ike between Racine Avenue and Mannheim Road. A top CTA official also is scheduled to participate.
IDOT has said it will choose a final preferred alternative by late 2014, and then begin detailed engineering that will lead to construction within the next few years. The CTA is conducting its own study of potential improvements to the Blue Line along the same transportation corridor.
Formal public meetings on the project were held Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 in Chicago and Forest Park. IDOT is accepting public comments on the information presented at those meetings until Nov. 7 at eisenhowerexpressway.com. Oak Parkers can also provide feedback via the Village of Oak Park's website.
Harmon and Oak Park leaders urge Oak Parkers to continue participating in the process to advocate for community benefits as well as mitigation of impacts from IDOT's desire to add a lane in both directions and move exit and entrance ramps at Harlem Avenue and Austin Boulevard to the right sides of the expressway.
Miss last month's meeting? Catch up.