Tag Archives: Illiana

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.

Voice Your Opinion on Illiana Toll Road

4 Dec

From Dan Blankenship, Lowell Resident

ATTENTION Lowell Residents
This is your LAST chance to voice your opinion to the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) concerning the “Illiana” TOLL ROAD!

The FINAL vote on accepting the ILLIANA TOLL ROAD into NIRPC’s 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan takes place on December 12, 2013 at the Sycamore Room at Woodland Park, 2100 Willowcreek Road, Portage, Indiana 46368
9:00 AM

This TOLL ROAD is to be built under a Public/Private Partnership, which means that if not even one vehicle uses this toll road the private investors will still get paid with TAXPAYER money (YOUR MONEY)!

Any Questions?: call 219-776-8857


Transportation Committee Approves Illiana; Gary Abstains

3 Dec

by Ken Davidson

The Transportation Committee of the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission voted 18-8 this morning to add the Illiana toll road project to the 2040 comprehensive plan.  The controversial vote moves the issue forward to the full NIRPC Committee where the fate is uncertain.  The major surprise was the abstention by Gary.  Opponents of the plan had hoped that Gary would vote against the project because it will adversely affect Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s plan to make Gary a transportation hub.

The meeting was strongly attended by union members who support the construction jobs the project will bring. Proponents have argued that the project would bring thousands of jobs to the region.  Residents of the affected region voiced their opposition to the plan via comments online.  Dan Blankenship, a vocal opponent of the plan who lives in Lowell commented:

Nov 19, 2013

I oppose the Illiana for reasons shown in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan from NIRPC that states we need to upkeep roads and highways and infrastructure in the northern part of Lake County and keep intact our farmlands, our wetlands and our wooded areas. It would be a great move if NIRPC turned down this road to nowhere. It will not benefit Indiana in any way. There is no way there will be 16,000 jobs created. Crains’ Chicago Business magazine quoted that the actual belief is it will create only about 900 jobs and that would be over a 10-15 year period. The toll road is not needed, it is a fiasco and I hope all NIRPC members will vote against it. Thank you.  Dan Blankenship, Lowell

All of the comments received by NIRPC are published on their website and you can view them <a href="http://nirpc.org/illiana-expressway-project/public-comments.aspx"Here.

The proposal will now go to full Commission.  At full Commission any member may call for a “weighted vote.” Under the rules, a weighted vote will allow communities to vote based on population. This means that the northern county cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago would have a much larger say in whether the plan moves forward.

Illiana Expressway Comments Due 11/20

19 Nov

by Ken Davidson

There is still time to voice your opinion on the proposed Illiana Expressway. Comments can be submitted via e-mail to comments@nirpc.org and will be received until midnight tomorrow, November 20, 2013. The public input will be instrumental in the decision making process and all those who have an opinion are encouraged to comment. For more information visit: The NIRPC Illiana Expressway Public Comments Page.  Please share this post via Facebook or e-mail so that all concerned may voice an opinion.

NIRPC is accepting public comment on proposed amendments from INDOT to add the Illiana Expressway and I-65 expansion to the 2014-2017 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and NIRPC’s 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan (CRP). Comments are also being sought regarding the Air Quality Conformity Analysis which includes the Illiana Expressway and I-65 expansion. The documents can be found below.
Air Quality Conformity public comment explanation memo PDF | Word
Air Quality Conformity Determination final document (10/1/2013) PDF | Word
2014-2017 TIP proposed amendment #4 PDF | HTML
NIRPC 2040 CRP proposed amendment #3 PDF | HTML
Comments will be accepted until midnight November 20, 2013 in the following ways:
Mail to NIRPC, 6100 Southport Rd., Portage, IN 46368
Telephone at (219) 763-6060 ext. 160
By email (in lieu of an electronic comment form) to comments@nirpc.org
Electronically and in writing at the four public meetings held in Gary, Lowell, Portage and Michigan City
Comments received and petitions:
Petitions PDF | HTML
Comments received June 15, 2007 – September 4, 2013 PDF | HTML
Comments received October 4-12, 2013 PDF | HTML
Comments received October 14-31, 2013 PDF | HTML
Comments received November 3-13, 2013 PDF | HTML
Comments received at NIRPC Policy Committee Meetings PDF | HTML