Daily Herald: Route 53 extension into Lake County

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The latest effort in the 50-year struggle to build the Route 53 north extension into central Lake County calls for a four-lane, limited-access toll road. (WLS)

The latest effort in the 50-year struggle to build the Route 53 north extension into central Lake County calls for a four-lane, limited-access toll road that features what officials say are a host of designs and measures to protect the environment. Officials say this version has progressed more than any in the past.

The Daily Herald shows how this effort has taken a more open and inclusive approach that hinges on balancing interests of environmental protection, transportation access and economic development. Issues are hashed out in public meetings, not behind closed doors. Environmentalists now have a seat at the table. Traditional opponents are engaged in the planning. Support comes from a fragile alliance, whose backing depends on whether long-sought protections for natural areas are financed and followed.

There are plenty of challenges, not the least of which is to pay the $2.65 billon tab. An advisory panel is crafting a financing recommendation to be sent to the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board, probably by the end of the year. The tollway board is expected to decide whether to advance the project sometime in 2015.

You can read the first part of this story in the Daily Herald's edition from Sunday, Oct. 26, and part two on Monday, Oct. 27. They will also be online at dailyherald.com.

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