Will County Residents Deliver Nearly 13,000 Petitions to Stop the Illiana Tollway

February 19, 2015

On Wednesday, February 18, Openlands helped to deliver 12,856 signed petitions to Governor Bruce Rauner, calling on his office to pull the plug on the costly and unneeded Illiana Tollway proposal. Delivery of the petitions was the culmination of a long effort by Openlands and its partners in the conservation community to amplify the strong and growing opposition to the Illiana.

“When this process began we worried that we were alone, but the overwhelming response to this petition drive from taxpayers across the state lets me know that we have a chance to stop this boondoggle before it goes any further,” said Virginia Hamann, who lives close to the proposed road’s path and leads the local grassroots group No Illiana 4 Us.

Haman’s group joined forces with organizations across the state, including Sierra Club, Openlands, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Active Transportation Alliance, and Illinois PIRG, to gather signatures from citizens across Illinois. The petitions were an emphatic statement that reflects the public opposition to a troubled project that would irrevocably damage the region’s vital natural areas, its productive agricultural land, and rural character.  The proposed highway would cut through family farms, pollute creeks, rivers, and streams in the area, and encroach on Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and the Des Plaines Conservation Area.

In addition to the negative environmental and cultural impacts, studies by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) have projected that the road would cost taxpayers up to $1.1 billion, diverting scarce funding that is needed to relieve congestion and repair crumbling roads and bridges across the state.

“It is reckless to plan to spend billions of dollars on a new road that has forecasts of minimal usage,” said Judy Ogalla, who represents District 1 on the Will County Board. “We have many roads and bridges in the state of Illinois that are in desperate need of repair.”

The first executive order issued by Governor Rauner effectively froze the proposed project in mid-January, but the petitions are calling on the Governor to take this dangerous and destructive plan off the table once and for all. 

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