Myths & Facts

What is the earliest the construction crews can start?

7:00 am is the earliest the construction crews can start. If they start earlier submit complaints to IDOT or contact the construction company directly. They are NOT supposed to start earlier then 7:00 AM.

What is an SRA and why is Route 45 one?

SRA is a Strategic Regional Arterial. Feel free to look at this 1996 document (you read that right… nineteen ninety-six) document. It goes on to explain that back then, the Lindenhurst area was considered an urban area. Apparently these documents are not updated or looked at often especially considering the changes that have happened in the area over the last couple decades.

Is there a criteria that must be followed when determining a speed limit of a road?

Yes there is… several actually. Please read the Policy on Establishing and Posting Speed Limits on the State Highway System for more information.

Does IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) have guidelines it has to follow when deciding to build a road?

Yes it does. The state of Illinois has to follow Federal Law which states:
Any State highway department which submits plans for a Federal-aid highway project involving the bypassing of, or going through, any city, town, or village…  ...has considered the economic and social effects of such a location, its impact on the environment, and its consistency with the goals and objectives of such urban planning as has been promulgated by the community. (Section 128 of Title 23 of the United States Code)

So the Federal Government has rules in place, what about the State of Illinois?

Illinois does as well. But did they follow them? You decide:
Step 4: Preferred AlternativeThis is the last stakeholder involvement activity during initial design/NEPA and its intent is to reach consensus with the public. In order to reach this point, all reasonable concerns should have been addressed and all conflicts resolved.The purpose of this activity is to formalize the agreed-upon consensus for the project scope. The watchwords should be “no outstanding issues” and “no surprises.” Staff should carefully determine whether issues remain unresolved or unidentified. If so, more rounds of alternative definition, analysis, and selection should be conducted before a public hearing. 

Consensus Building Efforts
An essential component of the stakeholder involvement process is the concept of “consensus.” The most serviceable definition of consensus is when a majority of the stakeholders agree on a particular issue, while the dissenting remainder of stakeholders agrees its input has been heard and duly considered and that the process as a whole was fair…
If consensus is impossible or infeasible, the project study group must take the issue back to the Regional Engineer, and confer with FHWA, as necessary, to determine how to proceed with the project.
(IDOT Bureau of Design & Environmental Manual (2010 edition), Chapter 19 – Public Involvement Guidelines) (emphasis added)

The majority of residents are in favor of an eastern bypass:

Graph of bypass location preference.

Graphs taken from LCDOT project website displaying bypass location preference based on resident feedback from Public Meeting #2.

What did Old Mill Creek and the engineering firms discuss this summer?

A new document has been discovered (which can be viewed here). In it, there are some very interesting items. Read the full document yourself, but here are some key takeaways:

  1. The documents specifically state there will be no noise abatement measures taken anywhere along the new bypass due to a lack of sufficient space and the limited number of residents that would benefit. So all the talk of noise abatement we heard from LCDOT and IDOT seems to not be in the plans.
  2. The increase in noise levels for Forest Trail, in homes next to the road, would see and noise increase of up to 12 dB, where 10 dB is generally considered a perceived doubling of noise level.
  3. The noise levels for residents next to the highway in Forest Trail would experience consistent noise levels near 68 dB, which they describe as a normal conversational voice at 3 feet of distance. However, the Google results show normal conversation in the low 60 dB range, while 70 dB is equivalent to a standard alarm clock. Imagine going outside and hearing the constant drone of an alarm clock while doing your yard work, or playing with your kids.
  4. The memo strongly suggests that they consider the amount of existing plantings east of Heritage Trail sufficient and would not be adding much additional plantings to block line of sight to the new highway.
  5. Old Mill Creek is going to try and hide its contingency plans for the East Bypass (see "Won't an Eastern Bypass destroy the historic district?" below). The village is going to send a letter to the county indicating that the plans they drew up with the Eastern Bypass in place was an exploratory plan and was never intended to move forward.


Isn't this a done deal?

Not exactly. Based upon a recent FIOA (Freedom of Information Act) document we still have time to make a difference. Read it here and you be the judge. It looks like there is still time to make our position known. And according to this Facebook post, Summer of 2012 Early 2013 you'll be able to let the decision makers know what you think at a public hearing. Contact your neighbors along with the officials and reporters listed here.

How do the majority of the residents feel?

A recent survey of Heritage Trails residents reflects the same sentiment the majority of the residents that were surveyed feel. Three questions were asked to the residents of Heritage Trails subdivision. Below are their responses (percentages based on residents that agreed to take the survey, and were available to take the survey):

1. I am opposed to the Rt 45 Western Bypass which would be located directly alongside of our Subdivision.

94.6% - Agreed with the statement
5.4% - Disagreed with the statement

2. I am in favor of the Lake County Board funding a Rt 45 Eastern Bypass.

95.7% - Agreed with the statement
4.3% - Disagreed with the statement

3. If the Eastern Bypass is not an option, I am opposed to the funding of the Western Bypass and would prefer no bypass.

88.7% - Agreed with the statement
9.7% - Disagreed with the statement
1.6% - Refuse to answer the statement

Won't an Eastern Bypass destroy the historic district?

A group member talked to the city planner for Old Mill Creek and the planner admitted that the land used for the east bypass is NOT protected and can be developed at any time for any reason. As evident by this plan developed for Old Mill Creek (click image below to enlarge). The "POD"s are area that have been rezoned as special retail and are chunks of real estate available to developers to purchase and build retail establishments.

Old Mill Creek Eastern Bypass Plans

What is the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) reason for picking the western bypass?

The LCDOT's director Marty Buehler has posted his department's reasons for choosing the western bypass to the media, but has not talked to the residents personally to explain his department's reasoning, nor listen to our concerns about safety, pollution, property values, and negative impact on McDonald Woods. If you take a look at their rezoning along with some additional facts below you'll see why we had to respond to Marty Buehler "facts" in the media and to the Lake County Board.

What do the residents really want?

You be the judge - Resident Comments from CAG meetings (PDF-be patient it is a large file). The linked file is directly from LCDOT's Route 45 Project site.

Better Travel, Better Performance?

According to the official LCDOT findings, the year 2040 average travel delay at the main intersection (Route 45 and Grass Lake/Millburn Road) is as follows:

31.7 seconds for the west bypass
37.6 seconds for the east bypass

That means the LCDOT is pushing the party line of "better travel performance" based on less than 6 seconds difference in a projection for 30 years from now. The 5.9 seconds difference is a worst case. It would be for the worst performing road segment, in the worst performing direction, during the worst performing hour of the day; a "perfect storm" of traffic. During a vast majority of the day, the difference is much less than 5.9 seconds.-- Thanks to Jason Arnholt for finding this information

Six seconds hardly seems worth sacrificing children's safety, ruining McDonald Woods Forest Preserve, and destroying neighborhoods for less six seconds of travel time!

Bypass of Route 45 at Millburn Road
Facts of the Case

History
Previous studies favored western bypass
Previous studies were performed before Forest Trail and Heritage Trail were constructed
Cost concerns prevented previous project plans from being completed
First residents of Forest Trail were told plan was for a 2 lane road, and that the plan would be re-evaluated before it was constructed
Right of Way (ROW) obtained in Forest Trail is not wide enough for a 4 lane divided highway (as it was not part of the original plan)
At the time Forest Trail was constructed, Route 45 was mostly local commuter traffic

The Issue
Project scope has changed significantly
Residential communities have been built in the path of the western bypass
Insufficient buffering space through Forest Trail for a 4 lane highway
Needs of the area have changed since the last study was done
Type of traffic has changed since the last study was done (more commercial traffic)
New residents in Forest Trail and Heritage Trail, through no fault of their own, were not informed of the road at the time of purchase

Funding and NEPA
County needs federal funds to complete the project
Federal funds require compliance with policies at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and with the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA)
FHWA and NEPA require public input be solicited, evaluated and most importantly, be strongly considered in any plan
NEPA requires all reasonable attempts at avoidance and minimization be made to lessen the social and economic impact of the community
NEPA also requires public concerns be addressed and justification for the final decision be presented
The public does not feel the Lake County DOT (LCDOT) was sincere in its consideration of public input
The public feels that the LCDOT deliberately mislead the public during the review process, and that the justification for the decision contains many misleading statements, and in some cases are outright lies
The public feels the LCDOT did not properly consider avoidance and mitigation when reviewing the proposals (such as consideration of an east-west only bypass)
Failure by the LCDOT to follow the intent of the FHWA and NEPA may constitute a violation of federal law

Public Opinion
The LCDOT highlights what they call the #1 (traffic flow), #3 (safety) and #5 (access) concerns from the public, but these are not supported by the actually contents of the questionnaires
The LCDOT fails to address the #2 (noise pollution) and #4 (negative impact to the forest preserve) concerns of the public, likely because they do not support their decision
The top ten concerns of the public, as derived from the questionnaires, including a subset of relevant facts
(Percentage of respondents who indicated a concern)
Impact on residential property (proximity) - 72.5%
Noise pollution – 28.0%
Safety of residents – 26.5%
Note that of the 53 respondents that indicated safety as a concern, 51 (96.2%) selected C4 as their preference. All 51 of those respondents felt that C4 was the safest alternative.
Optimize traffic flow – 21.0%
Note that of the 42 respondents that indicated traffic flow as a concern, 28 (66.7%) selected C4 as their preference. All 28 of those respondents felt that C4 offered the best traffic flow.
Impact on forest preserve land – 16.0%
Note that of the 32 respondents that indicated the impact on forest preserve land was a concern, 30 (93.8%) selected C4 as their preference. All 30 of those respondents felt that C4 offered the best preservation, protection and/or access to the forest preserve.
Impact on residential property values – 13.5%
Impact on commercial development along Route 45 – 13.5%
Note that of the 27 respondents that indicated concern with the impact on commercial development along Route 45, 25 (92.6%) selected C4 as their preference. All 25 of those respondents felt that C4 offered better opportunities for development.
Impact on schools (proximity) – 9.0%
The number of displaced homes or businesses – 9.0%
Air pollution – 8.5%
The public feels that no consideration was given for how the western bypass will inevitably reduce school funding, and therefore school performance
Lower property values = lower property taxes = reduces funding for the schools = poorer performing schools = lower property values

LCDOT Justifies Their Decision
The justification from LCDOT for the selection of the western bypass contains factual errors, misstatements and misleading information, possibly deliberately, in order to support their decision
Summary of the points highlighted by the LCDOT, with selected counter-points
Point 1 – Public Comments
The public comments are strongly in favor of the eastern bypass
A majority of concerns raised by the public are specific concerns about the negative impact that western bypass would have on the community
Point 2 – Cultural Clearances for the Historic District
The eastern bypass runs entirely through farmland and does not directly impact any of the historic structures within the Historical District
Point 3 - a de minimis impact (minimal impact) finding for use of forest preserve land
Although the was a minimal impact finding on forest preserve land for the western bypass, there is zero impact on the forest preserve for the eastern bypass
Point 4 – Environmental Considerations
There were no environmental concerns for either bypass option, i.e. the eastern bypass has no environmental concerns
Point 5 – Transportation performance
North Route 45 and east Grass Lake Road show identical traffic volumes
South Route 45 shows less traffic with the eastern bypass by 7%
West Millburn Road shows less traffic with the western bypass by 15%
Traffic efficiency impediments exist with the western bypass that do not exist with the eastern bypass
Reduction in speed through Forest Trail due to the proximity of residential housing
A designated School Zone near Millburn West school will reduce speeds on school days
Installment of a signalized intersection at Haven Lane and Route 45 to abate safety concerns with making left hand turns across a 4 lane highway
Point 6 – Design Considerations
Curve on north end of Route 45 with the eastern bypass was deemed sub-optimal
Various mitigation options exist to eliminate this concern, including:
Moving the road to the east side of the cemetery
Removing the cemetery, as was intended decades ago
Reduced distance between “new” Route 45 and “old” Route 45 intersections on Millburn Road deemed sub-optimal
Various mitigation options exist to eliminate this concern, including:
Dead end on “old” Route 45 at Millburn Road
Right turn only at “old” Route 45 at Millburn Road
The LCDOT has not completed all of the design consideration for either bypass option, so how can the design considerations add significant weight to the decision

Tempel Farms and Old Mill Creek
The public feels Tempel Farms has had an unfair influence on the decision
Tempel Farms and Old Mill Creek have plans for a large commercial and residential development on the east side of Route 45, undermining their arguments that they want to preserve their farming heritage, keep traffic out of their community and keep their small town feel
The commercial property envisioned by Tempel Farms and Old Mill Creek is tourist in nature as opposed to fitting the needs of the local population
The public feels that potential future development opportunities should never outweigh severe negative impacts on the current developments, in this case, residential developments

Closing Remarks
Residents are NOT opposed to a bypass
The public strongly opposes a western bypass
The public strongly supports an eastern bypass
Respondents to the questionnaire who DID NOT want the bypass favored the eastern bypass by 78.6%, if a bypass was going to be built