By Anna Lothson
Monday was the deadline for residents to submit comments and concerns about the Illinois Department of Transportation's multi-modal plan for the possible Eisenhower Expressway expansion. In Oak Park, resident Rick Kuner, a transportation and urban planning expert and former village trustee, has been working tirelessly to keep IDOT on its feet.
Kuner, co-chairman of the Citizens for Appropriate Transportation, recently summarized the group's concerns about what IDOT calls the "Purpose and Need Statement for Round 2 Alternatives." Kuner has been a strong opponent of IDOT's Ike expansion plans from the beginning, suggesting that it would spend too much money and doesn't deliver change. He also said the plan process had problems from the start.
"IDOT considered two alternatives that do not widen the expressway, but neither of these alternatives is in IDOT's top four," Kuner wrote in an email. "IDOT's analysis is seriously flawed for several reasons."
Among the items highlighted by the Citizens for Appropriate Transportation submitted for IDOT's consideration include the following:
"IDOT's Purpose and Need Statement says nothing about the major impacts transportation has on livable communities — a serious omission."
"By focusing on transportation criteria, IDOT under-designed their alternatives. To do a fair and comprehensive evaluation, they should include all the environmental, economic, social, and financial impacts."
"All four Build Alternatives IDOT wants to carry into Round 3 widen the expressway. At least one alternative should not widen the expressway. IDOT considered two versions of a multi-modal alternative suggested by Oak Park and CAT that upgrade and manage transit better, increase accessibility, and do not widen the expressway. Neither version scored in the top four because IDOT excluded important criteria."
"IDOT's proposed right-hand ramps at Austin and Harlem will negatively affect residential neighborhoods close to the expressway. Right-hand ramps move the source of air and noise pollution closer to homes."
"The Village of Oak Park, Citizens for Appropriate Transportation, and 80-plus others submitted written comments to IDOT in June 2012. IDOT did not respond until 10 months later in late April 2013."
"There are many ways to manage lanes. IDOT has not analyzed most of them."
"IDOT committed to a Context Sensitive Solutions process but has never had an architect or urban designer present for either concepts or designs.
Citizens for Appropriate Transportation encourages residents to get involved as IDOT continues to present its updated plans. For more information about the citizen group, visit: CitizensForAppropriateTransportation.org. For IDOT's documents about the Ike project, visit EisenhowerExpressway.com and look under the report section of the information center.