Wilmington weighs stance on Illiana route
By Mary Baskerville For The Herald-News July 9, 2012 9:02AM
Updated: August 12, 2012 6:13AM
WILMINGTON — Can the city of Wilmington influence the pathway of the Illiana Expressway?
Opinions differed during discussion at a city council meeting.
At issue was a draft ordinance calling on federal legislators to allow consideration of the pathway through the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Supported by Mayor Marty Orr and others on the council, the resolution was disputed by audience members.
Fifth-generation resident Tom Hayden urged the council to express “total opposition” to the Illiana.
Instead of an expressway, Donald Koester suggested the council work to “bring more people — open more businesses.”
“We’re here to listen to your input,” Orr said.
Alderman Helen Hoppe said she hears the people saying, “They don’t want it at all.”
Resident Jerry Heinrich said that the Illinois Department of Transportation’s position is that “having the Illiana pass through Midewin is not a viable option.” Heinrich argued that any effort on behalf of the city to suggest a new pathway through Midewin is to “mislead and give false hope.”
Federal legislation protects Midewin, Heinrich said, adding that the law could not be changed in time to meet the IDOT’s timeline for adopting a route. Heinrich is also president of the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie Alliance.
“We may be able to find some common ground,” Alderman Frank Studer said, suggesting a land swap could be created that “grows Midewin and benefits the people of Will County … laws can be changed.”
Orr said he has spoken to state Sen. Sue Rezin, state Rep. Pam Roth and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger and they individually have said they support working to allow the study of Midewin. Orr said he has also spoken to office staffs of U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.
Orr urged residents to attend an IDOT hearing July 31 in Peotone to “continue to voice your opinions. “
Orr said City Attorney John Urban will work on the proposed resolution to add a no-build option. The resolution will be considered at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the city hall.
IDOT’s public hearing is slated for
5 -8 p.m. July 31 at Peotone High School, 605 W. North St.