On Feb. 21, I attended the Corridor Advisory Group and Task Force Meeting. IDOT presented for our review its criteria for selecting combinations of roadway and railway solutions to the Eisenhower Corridor upgrade. Four options that rated highest under their selection process are to be studied further under the next selection of criteria.
The good news is that IDOT added to the review two options that keep the Ike at six lanes instead of eight, at the request of community leaders. The bad news is that the highest-rated option for six lanes did not make the cut because of the limited selection of criteria and the arbitrariness of the cut-off point.
The IDOT's top-rated four out of 12 options, all including an increase to eight lanes, were highly rated for modal connections (between different transportation options), safety, access to employment, and regional and local travel issues. Not yet included are environmental impact, impact on community institutions and quality of life for affected citizens. These unexamined values are the very ones that would have down-graded the selected four and favored the six-lane option.
The arbitrary cut-off at four options includes one unacceptable solution — charging tolls on all Eisenhower lanes. No reasonable answers are likely to be found to questions like: would cash toll booths be required at every exit and what would they displace? If not, how would low-income commuters without credit cards pay for tolls if they don't have transponders? Would a trip of two miles cost the same as a trip of 12 miles? Not only is this solution non-viable, it clearly disadvantages lower-income residents through whose community the Ike now runs. Many may not have credit cards to pay for transponder charges. The increased daily cost of commuting to work would force many onto arterial roads, which is considered a negative factor in IDOT studies.
IDOT should re-weight the options by deleting the one with tolling on all lanes (ranked #4). This would raise a six-lane solution to #5 out of 11, well within a reasonable group of selections. It should rank all remaining options for all criteria as it proceeds to the next step, including evaluating the impact on the environment, protection of community resources and quality of life, which includes consideration of the transportation circumstances of low-income citizens.
President, Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory