Thursday, September 22, 2005

An Open Letter To The Governor Of Illinois

    Note: When I was growing up, I used to occasionally read such open letters in my hometown newspaper. Fat chance that the message was going to get where it was intended, sure, but in those days, editorialists had the nerve to do it.

    Today's political and journalism communities are so intertwined that it's rare to find such gumption. I am appalled that I have not seen this sentiment on the opinion pages since Katrina's devastation became clear. I have searched every day, and it appears I am alone in this opinion. If I am, then it'll be a long battle.

    Having just spent the better part of yesterday afternoon stopping and going on Illinois Route 47, I think there are plenty of people who feel the way I do.

Governor Blagojevich,

I noted your remarks during your visit here last month with regard to the growth of the area and the proposed limited access highway now part of the Federal Transportation Bill for 2006. Now I am asking for your direct and immediate action as the Chief Executive of the State of Illinois.

I am asking that you issue an executive order disallowing the $209 million in federal dollars earmarked for the Prairie Parkway project, known in Kendall and Kane counties as the "Hastert Highway."

The disastrous situation on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi has made it clear once and for all that Washington's priorities over the past five years have begun to jeopardize our nation's future solvency.

It is becoming increasingly clear that when the final toll is taken, Washington will likely pay more than a thousand fold what it could have spent in the past three years to repair the levee system around the city of New Orleans.

If find it more than ironic that as a big blue, capital "L," Liberal, I am the first one making this suggestion in public. I could be wrong about that, but I don't think so.

Mr. Governor, we don't need to waste another $209 million to "study" the parkway site for another three years. Seventy-percent of area motorists believe the answer to our highway problems in this high-growth area lie in existing roadways. We've already told IDOT that in their own survey, and in town hall meetings.

Someone has not been listening.

The Prairie Parkway is very unpopular in the fastest growing and most populated counties where it would become reality, Kane and Kendall, and no doubt such a plan would bring construction jobs to the area. In several years.

Those jobs could be created right now with that money, with Illinois labor and machinery. But it should happen in Louisiana and Mississippi. And now the Gulf Coast of Texas is at risk.

Putting aside all the questions about Mr. Hastert's land purchase near one of the rejected corridors -- while the study was still under way -- and a larger discussion of who benefits from the "Prairie Parkway's" curious, circuitous route, and whose property is divided, what town will be decimated, I am simply asking you to put a stop to this waste.

Additionally, I am requesting your intervention in a renewed effort to expand IL Rt. 47 from I-88 in the north to I-80 in the south, the most direct route between the two interstate highways, and the most logical place for any highway work to begin now.

Illinois Route 47 has been ignored by IDOT for years (of Republican leadership in the state). Mr. Hastert is known by many to have said that Route 47 expansion would mean the elimination of quaint towns like Elburn and Yorkville (his hometown). In fact, Elburn is not involved, and as far as Yorkville is concerned there are now plans underway to improve IL 47 through the city.

Already, truckers loathe the time spent on IL 47 in the afternoon hours, and many intersections on the route have become more dangerous for local motorists now commuting this booming corridor.

This is not a Conservative vs. Liberal notion. It's not about Democrats and Republicans. This is about the future solvency of the U.S. Treasury, and helping ensure that our children and grandchildren don't have to forever pay for our lack of governance and oversight. Illinois, as one of the largest, most diverse and populous states should be out front setting an example.

Mr. Governor, issue an executive order to scuttle the Prairie Parkway plan now under study by IDOT. We don't need rain forests in Iowa. We don't need a half billion dollars worth of bridges in Alaska that only serve a few thousand people. And we sure as hell don't need the Prairie Parkway carving up some of the richest farmland on the face of the earth, and increasing the federal deficit.

At the end of the day, Mr. Blagojevich, put IDOT's nose on the pavement in Sugar Grove, looking south to Morris. Because the focus should be on IL Rt. 47 expansion and improvement, instead.

Respectfully yours,


Anonymous said...

Your letter's too long.. he won't read it. Plus, There is no room to expand Route 47 in Towns like Elburn and Yorkville. Unless of course, the people who own this very valuable property agree to it.. And those people are in tight with Hastert... Hence... the Prarie Parkway

HRC said...

Don't be an idiot. An open letter is not a memo. And I don't expect Rod to read it. You read it. You talk about it (you know, how really long it is). Pretty soon, there's a bunch of people saying, "you know, that's not a bad idea."

I get direct mail bullshit from Hastert that's 5 times as long.

As for the rest, you're making my point for me.

There certainly is room to expand 47 in Yorkville (this project wouldn't impact Elburn, which failed to manage its own growth in the first place).

Take a drive from Monmouth to Macomb some day.

That's what 47 ought to be.

Anonymous said...

IL 47 will be expanded to 4 lanes with or without Prairie Parkway, sooner or later.

When this happens, though, it will not be a nice high speed expressway. Look at what's happened along US 34 in Oswego, IL 59 in Plainfield. And what's happening in Yorkville now.

It will be a long string of malls, subdivisions, fast food joints, banks, and red lights. Kind of like Randall Road, the road everyone loves to hate.

HRC said...

IL 47 could easily become a limited access highway between the points mentioned. An 80mph monster thruway like I-355? Guess again. But no one wants that.

What you're describing is already happening along Orchard Road. The time is now to expand 47 and limit access.