NIRPC Passes Illiana, Lowell Residents Outraged, Union Members Cheer

12 Dec

by Ken Davidson

In perhaps one of the most contentious public meetings of the year, a room full of people who face losing their farms and family homes squared off with union members looking for temporary jobs.  Union members cheered as NIRPC voted to approve the Illiana Toll Road while farmers cried.  Perhaps the best comment was from a Lowell resident who said “move the road closer to Cedar Lake and Crown Point since they want it so bad.”  That comment clearly points out the irony of communities who have nothing to lose weighing in on the fate of people’s homes in rural south county Indiana.

Christine Cid stood up to the machine once again and voted against the Illiana.  You will recall that Cid was the lone democrat on the County Council standing against the income tax.  This time Cid was joined by County Chair Thomas McDermott.  McDermott, acting as Mayor of Hammond, clearly stated that communities along the 80/94 corridor may be harmed by the southern corridor.  Thus, the question as to why Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson decided to support the controversial plan.  Freeman-Wilson would appear to have the most to lose with the construction of the tollway as she has pinned Gary’s revitalization hopes to the plan to be a transportation hub.  The Illiana Toll Road is expected to be a catalyst for the proposed Peotone Airport as well as a truck route to avoid congestion.  The primary economic growth Gary has seen in recent years has been along the 80/94 corridor.  In the event the Illiana is successful in removing even 20% of the truck traffic from the area, that could be a large loss in jobs and tax revenue for Gary.

The real story here is Governor Mike Pence.  Pence chimed in today praising the Board for passing the plan.  Pence would do well to remember his base if he plans to run for re-election.  It seems that he was outmaneuvered politically during this entire process.  Maybe we will see a Governor McDermott after all.

5 Responses to “NIRPC Passes Illiana, Lowell Residents Outraged, Union Members Cheer”

  1. Cnote Griffin via Facebook December 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    I am not at all a fan of McD or Illiana, but the Gazette’s stated goal is to cover stories in an unbiased manner. Some of these stories are starting to lean really heavily in one direction, almost sounding tongue-in-cheek or snarky. Just the facts, please.

    • ken December 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Cnote. We do take constructive criticism into account and work to make this venture a platform that is responsive.

  2. Bryan Grimm via Facebook December 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    Keep the good stories coming, guys!!!! I like the The Northwest Indiana Gazette viewpoint!!! If I want the wrong slant on the news, I’ll renew my subscription to the Times online!!!

  3. Tina December 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Sound to me that he has stated the facts pretty well, since it is all true..great article!!

  4. Mike December 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    so….the Illiana got approved, doesn’t surprise me….the ” Big Government ” machine rolls thru AGAIN, and can’t be stopped…they WILL build it regardless…feel terrible for those that live in the rural areas that the proposed toll-road will go through, who will lose their land(s) and dreams of living in the ” country ” see…your land really isn’t yours….you only ” rent ” it…if the government wants it, they WILL take it, it’s called Eminent Domain( the power to take private property for public use by a state or national government ( They will offer ” fair market value” which is usually a LOT less than what people think, and… if you refuse to sell, then they will proceed with condemnation….which in my opinion is ” legal ” theft by the government. Try not paying your property taxes(gov’t rent) on your land that you may have paid for and own ” free and clear ” and see what happens….Also, hadn’t heard until lately, that they plan on widening 65 from 231 to 30 also with this project?….nice….like that road isn’t bad enough as it is…on top of ALWAYS being under construction… this new “toll road ” project was proposed under the guise of relieving traffic… now we are going to create even MORE traffic on ANOTHER road?! and we also all know what happens with toll roads….WE pay for them, then they get privatized, STILL pay the tolls EVEN THOUGH the road is PAID for, and a private company sets what the toll fees will be. We’ve seen this JUST happen in Illinois! And those private toll road contracts last DECADES not just a few years….they rake in the money, the roads turn to crap, they raise the tolls to ” improve ” the road(s)…..and the vicious cycle continues…..I hope the hell that people vote OUT all the politicians that voted in favor of this next debacle… more thing….Illinois benefits WAY more than Indiana on this project…..there’s only supposed to be 10….yes 10….miles, with 3 exits, of the 47 total miles…. in this state, at a cost of 130 MILLION per mile…..not including the $80 million to $110 million for PRELIMINARY engineering environmental studies and studies involving two rail lines! So the “north county” B.S. has finally arrived to the quiet and peaceful south county.

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