Tollway board OKs $25M study for Route 53 extension plan

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. --The Illinois Tollway board has approved spending $25 million on an environmental impact study for the controversial, decades-long proposal to extended Illinois Route 53 into Lake County.

The proposal calls for a 12-mile extension of Illinois Route 53 from Long Grove to Grayslake, and another 12 miles on an Illinois Route 120 bypass the connects to the Tri-State Tollway.

Several business, labor organizations, elected officials and municipalities spoke out in favor of the 24-mile project and the jobs it could bring.

Some suburban commuters said they hope it would ease traffic congestion.

Many others oppose the project, some calling the estimated $3 billion project a boondoggle.

Hawthorn Woods Mayor Joseph Mancino says he doesn't want an elevated roadway roaring through his wooded community. And many municipalities and environmentalists say it'll be harmful to wetlands.

Others point to increased costs for motorists and questionable funding sources for people in and out of Lake County.

A gas tax hike of $0.04 per gallon in Lake County is one part of the mix. There are toll increases on Interstate 94 in Lake County that are a possibility, costing commuters up to an extra $1,000 a year.

$1.5 billion will be collected from tolls outside Lake County.

The plan also asks the cash-strapped state of Illinois to give away $400 million of taxpayer-owned property to the Tollway Authority.

The impact study is expected to take 3-5 years to complete.