Citizen group shares concerns over IDOT's Eisenhower expansion plans

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

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: For IDOT's documents about the Ike project, visit and look under the report section of the information center.

Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Posted: May 23rd, 2013 8:30 AM

See, CAT has plenty of work to do locally, including encouraging local residents like Mr. Grossman to take the Blue or Green line trains rather than driving downtown. Also, if IDOT makes use of the CSX tracks then it frees up the railbed to use for the extra two IKE lanes, and negates the reason for the street-level CN tracks running through River Forest, which could be converted to a bike path to the Forest Preserve, Triton College and beyond.

Leonard Grossman from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: May 22nd, 2013 5:15 PM

The eastbound center ramp at Austin is the safest entry on to the Ike. And when I lived in the Arts District, it was great to be able to get in the left lane downtown and stay there until I was on Austin.


Posted: May 22nd, 2013 4:55 PM

And in the midst of this discussion/debate is legislation looking to increase the population of the US (and Chicagoland) by millions. This will then require that the Ike (and other highways) is expanded again in 15-20 years - or less. Also, today's "sprawl" will look quaint in comparison. All of this is being pursued so that the US can have more "growth." In the meantime, check the un/under-employment rates for our youth - I don't think that we need more competition for them. Do you?


Posted: May 22nd, 2013 8:34 AM

IDOT is committing to expanding the number of lanes without widening the trench. While a right hand entry ramp at Austin and exit at Harlem may be a sticking point, if engineered correctly the impact on a few properties could be very limited. The earlier claims of threats to the Conservatory and the Maze Library have been relieved. Oak Park should declare victory and move on.

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