Rt. 53 Shenanigans
The last public meeting we had alerted you all to about Rt. 53 (in Lakemoor on 7/25) turned out to be part of the formal “scoping” for the Rt. 53 Environmental Impact Study though they kept that quite a secret.
The formal process begins with what they call a “Notice of Intent” in the Federal Register. As of last spring, when they began the “Tri-County Access Stakeholder Group” meetings, they had not yet filed this notice. When we asked why, they said that, with the new update to the federal Law, they only had 2 years to complete the study once they filed the notice and they thought they needed much more time than that. When we attended the public meeting last week, we just happened to ask a tollway representative when they planned to file that notice and begin the formal process and they told us that they had filed the notice a few weeks prior.
We managed to find it despite the fact that it does not mention “Rt 53” or the “Tri County Access Project”: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/07/16/2018-15097/environmental-impact-statement-lake-cook-and-mchenry-counties-illinois . It turns out we were in a formal public comment period for the study and no one, including the identified stakeholder group (The Tri-County Access Stakeholder Working Group), knew about it. If we hadn’t happened to ask, it’s likely that the formal comment period could of come and gone and no one would have known. This is not surprising, considering the shenanigans the tollway pulls on a regular basis but it is likely illegal and completely unacceptable.
We reported it out to our environmental coalition and the Environmental Law and Policy Center drafted a letter with references to the federal law violations and our organization as well as the Liberty Prairie Foundation, Openlands (which now encompasses Conserve Lake County), The League of Woman Voters of Lake County, Lake County Audubon, The Metropolitan Planning Agency, The Active Transportation Alliance and the Center for Neighborhood Technology all signed on along with other environmental organizations. Here’s a link to the sign-on letter: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-HiiPIB2VLlUPSOpK_AQnkAE99ynjcO5/view?usp=sharing and the Crain’s article about the letter: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/greg-hinz-politics/new-legal-fight-battle-over-route-53-heats-again The tollway agreed to extend the public comment period to 9/30/18. We will get back to you all with a link to participate and talking points. It will be VERY important for everyone to participate as this is a numbers driven process.
Ever Vigilant –
Midwest Sustainability Group