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Toll officials share plans, hear concerns in Huntley

Updated: October 26, 2012 6:13AM

HUNTLEY — More than 150 people turned out to listen to representatives of the Illinois Tollway share their plans for the $69 million capital project for the I-90-Route 47 interchange that began this past June — and to voice their concerns about the project.

Tollway Director Kristi Lafleur began the presentation by outlining the scope of the Huntley project that will be funded by the toll authority ($35 million) and four other taxing bodies including Huntley ($6 million), Kane County ($6 million), McHenry County ($7 million) and the Illinois Department of Transportation ($15 million).

Lafleur said the project will complete the existing partial interchange with the construction of six new ramps with all-electric toll plazas and the reconstruction of the Route 47 bridge over I-90. She also said the project will coincide with the $2 billion reconstruction and widening of the tollroad west from Rockford to Elgin and east from Elgin to the city of Chicago.

“This is the oldest portion of the tollway. This reconstruction should last another 50 years,” Lafleur said.

Rocco Zucchero, deputy chief of engineering for planning at the tollway, shared the podium with Lafleur and cited the benefits of the project to the village of Huntley. He said the new full interchange would make Route 47 a primary north-south corridor and feed businesses already located in the village such as FYH Bearing Units USA, the Huntley Prime Outlet Mall and General RV.

“The project will create 390 construction jobs, 12,000 permanent jobs in retail, office and light industrial by the year 2030,” he said.

Zucchero also said the tollway authority is committed to reconstructing the toll road using ecologically friendly techniques.

New-toll concerns

Residents asked for details about noise mitigation and how loud the tollway would be in their backyards with increased traffic. But the big question for most residents dealt with the cost of tolls at the new interchange. Currently, residents can enter or exit the eastbound tollway for free.

Zucchero said motorists can expect to pay 30 cents on the ramps heading to or from the east and 45 cents to enter or exit to the west.

Several residents complained during the meeting and afterward that the new tolls would make the 3.5-mile trip to Randall Road cost about 90 cents each way.

“Short segments can cost more,” Zucchero said. “There will always be stretches where it costs a bit more. It is a way to provide these local benefits. It is the policy we have had since 2006 to achieve these local projects.”

Sun City resident Kim Fischer attended the presentation and said he thinks the project is a necessary part of bringing “civilization” to a rural area.

“There are ways to get to Randall Road without paying tolls,” Fischer said. “Tolls are like taxes; they are the price we pay for civilization.”

Not every resident was as accepting of the new tolls. Sun City resident Ruth Prellberg agreed the interchange was needed but was not a fan of the tollway in general.

“That’s the future,” Prellberg said. “When the tollway first came, it was supposed to be free by now. I’ll be darned if I’m going to pay. I myself avoid the tollway because they’re all speedsters.”

Lafleur said she thought the event was helpful for her agency in finding out the specific concerns of residents. “I think this went very well,” Lafleur said. “People have had an opportunity to express their concerns. The noise issue is something we hadn’t heard yet.”

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