Friday, March 16, 2012

The Route 53 Over-Extension

Route 53, where are you?Operatives are urged to get their people to the polls so they can choose themselves a new power company. As readers of this blog are electronically aware ...
An Energized Electorate
With referenda on the ballot promising free electricity for all, your LakeCountyEye predicts a super monster turnout for the Primary Election on Tuesday. The last time Lake County saw this sort of super monster turnout at the polls, the voters overwhelmingly approved a 2009 referendum promising to build the Route 53 Extension for them, totally free of charge. Well the chickens have come home to roost all over the Route 53 Extension, metaphorically speaking, because it's time to pay the piper. According to the Daily Herald ...
If it wasn't tricky enough reaching consensus on extending Route 53 into Lake County, the group advising the Illinois tollway on the project received a supersized challenge Monday -- overcoming a possible shortfall of up to $2 billion. Tolls alone aren't enough to cover building the road, planners told members of the tollway's Illinois Route 53/120 Blue Ribbon Advisory Council. "It's a sobering situation," said council Co-Chairman George Ranney, who is president of the civic group Metropolis Strategies. To fill the gap, multiple options are on the table, including raising sales or gas taxes in Lake County, charging tolls on the existing Route 53, and dedicating some of the tax money from higher property values and new development to the project. Some participants also floated the idea of a systemwide toll increase.
Planners: Route 53 extension money is way short
Haha, politicians who were all gungho to fire up the backhoes, back then, are now backtracking. The Daily Herald observes ...
With those variables, Long Grove Village President Maria Rodriguez wondered "is it even worth continuing the conversation?"
Planners: Route 53 extension money is way short
Rodriguez is well known for flipflopping over Route 53 in 2009, when she unsuccessfully challenged Joe Walsh in the Eighth Congressional District. Your LakeCountyEye speculates that Rodriguez will tell her voters in the municipal election, next year, that she was against the Route 53 Extension before she was for it before she was against it.

Not for nothing is Lake County known for its can-do spirit. Your LakeCountyEye thinks our elected officials can-do better than run like scared little kittehs from some bad budget forecasts. There are other ways our leaders can pay for Lake County's long awaited super monster super-highway without having to raise taxes and then get booted out of office. At least ten of them, grasshoppers ...

Ten Painless Ways to Pay for the Route 53 Extension
  1. Organize a Route 53 Extension Bake Sale.
  2. Throw an Old-Timers Charity Ballgame at Fielders Stadium.
  3. Borrow the Money from the Chinese.
  4. Host a Fort Sheridan Celebrity Pro/Am Golf Tournament.
  5. The commuters can pay for it: Put toll booths in all the Lake County roundabouts.
  6. Wait for the Route 53 Extension to be falsely arrested & wrongly convicted. Then sue Lake County for that big payday.
  7. The 3 Little Pigs Principle: Build the road with less expensive material -- Straw or Sticks, for example.
  8. Sell the naming rights:
    The Route 53 Extension, Brought to you by Glaxo, maker of Cialis
  9. Skim some more dough out of the Waukegan Casino.
  10. The Old Tried and True:
    The Check is in the Mail.

Take it from your LakeCountyEye: You can get your hilarity on Route 53.


Cal Skinner said...

Folks should note that when the Tollway was extended into Will County, a extension that does not pay for itself, there was no talk of raising local Will County taxes.

Of course, anywhere else in Illinois, e,g., Route 67 (which goes to Western Illinois University), if the local politicians want a four-lane freeway, they get it.

We pay for it, of course, because most gas tax money comes from the six-county Chicago metropolitan area.

That's not to mention the money ripped out of Tollway users' pockets when they buy gasoline.

Remember, the Tollway gets not one thin dime paid in Motor Fuel Taxes on Tollway trips.

That amounts to about $100 million a year.

So, in Lake County, why do we have politicians begging for a tollway?

Why aren't those powerful Democrats demanding the gas taxes no longer be put into the highway pot to build freeways from nowhere to nowhere outside of the six-county area?

Incidentally, there is more traffic on the street in front of my house in the Crystal Lake suburb of Lakewood than on Route 67.

Barney Baxter said...

hi Cal,

Good questions. The Rte 53 Extension may answer some of them.

53 was never built because (then State Senator) Bill Peterson -- who represented Long Grove -- was powerful enough to stand in its way.

After Peterson retired the Lake County Board had and took the opportunity to get Rte 53 built, and used the 2009 referendum to get the ball rolling.

A case can be made that building Rte 53 will not help traffic in Lake County, and may actually make things worse. But Lake County was and is controlled by Republicans -- and those powerful politicians want Rte 53 built for one reason, imo: jobs.

One thing is different nowadays, however. The State is broke and we're in a severe recession. The voters are also sympathetic to libertarian arguments that government should not engage in large-scale public-works-type projects.

In this climate, any politican who advocates any sort of tax increase for any sort of government project risks his job.


Cal Skinner said...

Could not the powerful Lake County legislative Democrats pry the money raised by motorists on the Tollway out of the control of the Downstate IDOT bureaucracy.

$100 million a year could float some freeway bonds.

Barney Baxter said...

hi Cal,

I imagine those powerful Lake Co Democrats are waiting to get control of the county board first.