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Archive for the ‘Illinois Tollway’ Category

53 Greenway

First came the Illinois Prairie Path, one of the first rail-to-trail conversions in the United States. Later, The 606 trail in Chicago attracted crowds of bikers and runners and led to skyrocketing nearby property values. Now, a group of conservationists and elected officials in Lake County are pushing to turn a former proposed tollway corridor into a greenway — a trail through a long, narrow nature preserve.

Illinois lawmakers recently approved a resolution calling for a task force to study alternate uses for the proposed extension of Illinois Route 53 in the northwest suburbs. The effort picks up where Illinois tollway officials left off in 2019 when they dropped plans for the road.

Believers in the project cite it as an example of a popular trend away from highways and greenhouse gas emissions, and toward preservation of natural areas. Critics see it as a boondoggle for a relatively small number of people, rather than a project that could have served 100,000 drivers a day and spurred economic development.

While Republicans traditionally have supported road projects, the resolution passed unanimously in both chambers, suggesting growing bipartisan support for nature paths.

“These become beloved spaces where diverse residents, young and old, flock to get fresh air, walk, bike, and share a moment with each other,” said Gerald Adelmann, president and CEO of the nonprofit Openlands conservation group. “This is our moment to create that kind of legacy for our communities.”

Road builders see it differently. Mike Sturino, president of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, cited widespread past support for the expressway.

“The majority of working people suffer when you pull the plug on needed infrastructure,” Sturino said. “I like bike lanes, but we have to be realistic. It’s shocking when respectable officials are browbeaten by a radical fringe to go along with this reckless move.”

Read more here.

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FAA

A rendering of the new Global Terminal at O’Hare International Airport, expected to be completed by 2028. It will replace Terminal 2.

The Federal Aviation Administration is scrutinizing Chicago’s monumental plan to build a new global terminal at O’Hare International Airport, punch a hole in its west side and add two new concourses.

The review will assess whether the proposal is likely to significantly affect the environment — and you have an opportunity to chime in. Comments from the public are being accepted now through July 9.

The result could trigger a more detailed environmental impact statement or the FAA could conclude there’s no significant issues.

Known as the Airport Terminal Project, its blockbuster feature is a $2.2 billion Global Terminal that will accommodate domestic and international airlines with customs and immigration services. The billowy, Y-shaped design, created by a team led by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang, incorporates glass, wood and steel and will be twice the size of Terminal 2, which it’s replacing.

A tunnel will connect the Global Terminal to two concourses on the west side of the airport, intended to be double the size of existing ones and able to fit wide- bodied planes. Overall, the construction should add 22 gates to O’Hare with the airport’s capacity expected to increase by 25% to 100 million passengers by 2026.

Also included are two new hotels, one at Terminal 5 and a second to be built as a multiuse complex off Mannheim Road.

Read more here.

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The Illinois tollway board approved an amnesty program through the end of 2020 for unpaid tolls and violations.

Tollway customers with outstanding fines will get a break from excessive fees with new policies that include a temporary amnesty program approved by board directors Thursday.

Starting on July 1, any existing fees and fines related to unpaid tolls would be greatly reduced through the end of December.

Customers would be required to pay the actual toll amount plus a $3 fine per violation instead of hefty fees of $20 and up to $50 that have caused much criticism of the agency over the years. Payments can be made at illinoistollway.

The amnesty lasts for six months and includes drivers facing collection proceedings.

Read more here.

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To lure Sears into a Chicago suburb, officials crafted the largest tax break package ever awarded to a company in Illinois. It resulted in revenue shortfalls, disappearing jobs and unexpected tax burdens, a Daily Herald and ProPublica review showed.

On a hot Sunday afternoon in June 1989, two of the most powerful men in Illinois met to watch a ballgame at Wrigley Field — and, if all went well, to make a deal.

James R. Thompson, the state’s four-term Republican governor, and Edward Brennan, chairman of Sears, Roebuck & Co., the world’s largest retailer, had been deep in talks for months.

The stakes were high. Brennan was threatening to move Sears’ corporate headquarters, located in downtown Chicago in what was then the tallest skyscraper in the world, to another state. The move would rob Illinois of thousands of good-paying jobs, tens of millions in tax revenues and its reputation as a business-friendly state.

As the two men watched the Montreal Expos blank the Cubs 5-0, dropping the “Lovable Losers” out of first place, Thompson told Brennan he’d do whatever it took to keep Sears from leaving. The state had crafted a package of financial incentives that the legendary political deal maker believed was too good to pass up.

After the game ended, Thompson called up one of his closest associates, Jay Hedges, director of the state’s Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. In a recent interview, Hedges recalled Thompson delivering the news of his breakthrough.

“Well, Jay, Sears is staying in Illinois,” Thompson told him. “And they want to move to Hoffman Estates.”

Read much more here.

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Metra commuters traveling next week will have fewer trains to choose from as the railway scales back service in response to a COVID-19-related drop in passengers.

Metra officials announced they would switch to an alternate schedule effective Monday that provides about half the trains normally offered. It will still provide “adequate service for those who still need to travel,” officials said.

Metra will try to keep the regular number of cars on trains to allow for social distancing — people staying 6 feet apart.

To find out what the alternate schedules entail, go to metrarail.com.

Editorial note: Given Metra’s social distancing guidelines and the moronic behavior we’ve witnessed people displaying recently, readers are advised to drive whenever possible/practical beginning Monday.

 

 

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The “Rebuild Illinois” capital program “will make roads in every corner of the state safer. A variety of revenue sources will be solely dedicated to fixing our crumbling infrastructure, putting over half a million people to work and revitalizing communities across Illinois,” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said.

What will cost more next year?

• Vehicle registrations jump by $50 for conventional cars and SUVs. Most truck registrations rise by $100.

• Electric vehicle registrations soar to $251 from $35.

• Gas taxes already went up by 19 cents a gallon this year to help pay for the capital program. In 2020, the cost per gallon will increase by the consumer price index effective July 1, 2020. That’s part of an annual adjustment tied to the CPI.

• Parking spaces on lots not owned by state or municipal governments will pay a tax ranging from 6% for hourly, daily or weekly users to 9% for monthly and yearly customers.

• Tax credits for trade-ins when buying a new car or SUV will be capped at $10,000. Pickup trucks, however, are exempt.

Read more here.

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Illinois’ law banning driving and texting is now five years old, and drivers caught violating it will face a stiffer penalty as of July 1.

Scofflaws who text, talk or use any hand-held devices behind the wheel will receive a ticket for a moving violation. Three moving violations in a 12-month period will lead to a license suspension.

Lawmakers tightened the law in 2018, removing a provision giving first-time offenders a free pass.

The tougher stance reverts back to what Secretary of State Jesse White “wanted in the original bill, and it was negotiated down,” spokesman Dave Druker said. “There was a lot of feeling it was a little harsh.”

Being nice, however, wasn’t working, authorities found. White and Illinois State Police “felt it wasn’t making a dent,” said Elgin Democratic Sen. Christina Castro, who sponsored the change.

Read more here.

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A plan to legalize recreational marijuana leaves some Illinois lawmakers on a collision course with many cops and prosecutors tasked with catching stoned drivers.

“It’s a nightmare,” McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said of legislation under debate in Springfield. He and other local law enforcement experts worry legalization will embolden more people to drive while high and raise crash rates.

Proving a driver is impaired by marijuana beyond a reasonable doubt is no slam dunk for law enforcement.

While Breathalyzers provide an exact measurement of how drunk a driver is, “the technology doesn’t exist” yet for precisely capturing marijuana impairment, Kenneally contends.

And training officers to conduct flawless sobriety tests for weed or buying experimental pot-detection devices is expensive, police say.

“I think some of the lawmakers are out of touch with reality,” Des Plaines Police Chief Bill Kushner said.

Read more here.

Related: “Legalize pot? No way, says leader of state police chief association”

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Illinois Tollway Regional Mobility Survey

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 8.37.26 AMThe Illinois Tollway is offering I-PASS customers in the Kane County region an opportunity to provide input on a Kane County project to improve regional mobility through the development of the Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor improvement. The Longmeadow Parkway project is designed to alleviate traffic congestion in northern Kane County and relieve pressure on the existing bridges crossing the Fox River. While the Illinois Tollway is not directly involved in the development of the improvement, we are hoping that our I-PASS customers can provide valuable feedback regarding their travel habits and preferences.

The Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor improvement is 5.6 miles in length and includes a new four-lane Fox River Bridge crossing and four-lane roadway with a median that passes through portions of the Villages of Algonquin, Carpentersville and Barrington Hills, as well as unincorporated areas of Kane County.

For completing the survey, Kane County’s consultant is offering entry into a drawing to win a $500 check card.

Take the survey here.

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