IDOT Defends Results of Route 53 Extenstion Study

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Byline: Mark Spencer Daily Herald Staff Writer

State transportation officials say critics of the Route 53 extension misinterpreted a study by saying the proposed tollroad would lure an additional 60,000 residents to Lake County.

Growth directly attributed to the Route 53 project would be closer to 28,000 additional residents, the Illinois Department of Transportation says in a new study being presented to Lake County Board officials today.

Both estimates are in addition to an increase of 250,000 already expected by 2020, based on Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission estimates.

Officials with the Environmental Law and Policy Center defend their analysis and dispute the state's methods for determining what will drive more residents to move to Lake County.

"IDOT's new study is a clumsy attempt to make the number of new residents that Route 53 would attract to Lake County smaller than it really would be," said Alexander Ewing, staff attorney for the not-for-profit environmental advocacy group, which opposes the northern extension.

However, Carla Berroyer, IDOT's chief of the urban planning bureau, said the environmental group has been misquoting a study by the Northeastern Illinois Regional Planning Commission.

The figure in question - 60,000 new residents beyond those who would already be coming by 2020 - refers to the impact not only of Route 53, but of a host of other transportation projects, according to the planning commission.

Examples include adding lanes to the Tri-State Tollway, widening Route 22 and building a second track on Metra's North Central Service line.

For the new study, an IDOT contractor was hired to use the same method as the planning commission - examining undeveloped land and how access to it would change - in an attempt to determine how individual projects would affect the flow of new residents to the county. …