Simple, Yet Sweeping Goal: Smart Growth New Effort Wants to Bring Best of Land-Use Planning to Bear on Metro Area
Davis, Jon, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Jon Davis Daily Herald Staff Writer
A few hundred acres of DuPage County's rural heritage survive near West Chicago at Powis and Smith roads.
The DuPage County Airport, the subdivisions visible across corn fields, North Avenue and ritzy homes seem remote from where the two-lane roads meet the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway crossing.
But within the next several years, suburb-to-suburb commuter trains might stop here along Metra's proposed STAR Line at a station that's being designed to attract riders from western DuPage and parts of Kane counties.
That will start a ripple effect, since traffic to and from the station will affect not just Powis and Smith roads, but the roads that connect with them. How might that traffic interact with strip malls and auto dealerships already creeping west along North Avenue? What other development might the station spur, and where?
Fifteen stations are planned along the $1.2 billion STAR Line from O'Hare International Airport to Hoffman Estates to Joliet. While host suburbs are making plans for them, who is looking at how traffic patterns and land use across municipal boundaries will change?
This is where the Regional Planning Board steps in.
Why and how
The new 15-member panel links the seven-county region's transportation and land-use planning for the first time.
That's a step proponents say is long overdue and will help preserve open land and reduce the cost of new roads and sewers. Over time, they add, it will also prevent traffic congestion from reaching Los Angeles-like proportions.
"We have 272 cities in six counties along with several transportation agencies and the state," said former Lake County Executive James LaBelle. "We have developments going in where there isn't adequate transportation able to serve them. It's obvious it's uncoordinated."
Such uncoordinated growth carries a hefty price tag, according to a national study, "Sprawl Costs: Economic Impacts of Unchecked Development," released this year.
The study predicts planning which includes the land use- transportation link should help save 4 million acres of open land, $109.7 million in road construction costs, $24 million in travel costs and 7.8 percent in residential home prices through 2025.
How the Regional Planning Board intends to make that sort of difference here will be decided by September, when the board must tell state legislators what it wants to do, what powers it will need and how to pay for it all. …