Quick-take for expressway would be lengthy process
By Erin Gallagher For The Herald-News June 7, 2012 6:14PM
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:07AM
The quick-take provisions state legislators recently passed for the proposed Illiana Expressway have left many rural homeowners worried. It wasn’t long ago that Midewin forced immediate evictions that took 10 years to settle in court.
If quick-take is needed for the Illiana project, homeowners can expect a different process from the state than what locals experienced from the feds, Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said.
In Illinois, quick-take is a much lengthier process where homeowners are paid a preliminary price up front, Schneider said. Then homeowners can go through a jury process to get more money for their property.
“(The state has) to pay it on the front end,” she said. “We can’t even motion to take title until that’s paid.”
The quick-take process begins after negotiations break down. It could take about four months for homeowners to get paid, before the state petitions the court for the title. Homeowners can request a delay, as well, she said.
Another key difference between federal and state quick-take procedures is the project’s timing.
“We cannot go to quick-take unless we are within one year of actually starting (construction) on the project,” Schneider said.
“My major objection is there is not a set path in place to even consider quick-take,” said state Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood. “It’s like putting the cart before the horse.”
One of the three proposed routes will be selected in January, 2013.
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights, said she will request that the state request an ombudsman to represent property owners. Hutchinson sponsored the quick-take bill in the Senate.
“I’ll do everything I can to make sure that the state and the department treat property owners, and the land itself, with as much respect as possible,” she said.
Both Hutchinson and state Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, said they voted for the legislation because they were told it was a technical bill with standard language that is in all similar projects. IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell confirmed that quick-take has been standard since it was introduced in Illinois in 1957.
McGuire said he plans to work with IDOT to ensure that farmers who work that area will be able to easily access both sides of the highway.
“I was in strong support of the legislation because it will enable the Illiana Expressway project to move along, which is very important to our local residents in terms of commerce, jobs, and traffic congestion,” said state Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego.
“Again, I’d like to emphasize that we see this as a last resort,” Schneider said. “We don’t like to use quick-take.”
Will County Farm Bureau manager Mark Schneidewind said the group opposes quick-take, calling it a vicious power.
“The vote for Friend of Ag (award) will be heavily weighted on this quick-take bill,” Schneidewind said. “There will be different people getting the award this year, there’s no doubt.”
State Rep. Emily McAsey, D-Lockport, did not respond to requests for comment.