Tri-State access at I-57, 147th Street tears down 50 Posen homes

September 5, 2013 (CHICAGO)

A major road construction project is well under way that will provide an economic windfall for the south suburbs: a long-awaited ramp to connect the Tri-State Tollway with I-57; and an interchange at 147th Street at the Tri-State.

Some residents in suburban Posen who have lost their homes because of the construction are not happy with the money the state is paying for them to move.

The project at Tri-state and I-57 has been decades in the making, and should be a huge convenience for motorists and an economic boon for the surrounding southern suburbs.

"And already mayors are telling me they're getting interest from developers that they never had before because of this access," Ed Paesel, South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, said.

The big picture benefits are monumental, but acquiring the right of way always brings a measure of pain for homeowners who had to sell to the state.

"This is where I lived: 14929 South California," Verinta Lane, displaced homeowner, said.

Vernita Lane's home, built seven years ago, is gone. It's one of more than 50 homes and businesses that are being removed to make way for the interchange and a second Tri-State access at 147th in Posen.

"Most homeowners felt like they were just getting railroaded. Some homeowners were forced to rent," John Lacey, displaced homeowner, said.

John and Keicha Lacey will be losing their first home. Like others in the area, their mortgages now exceed the market value of their homes.

"And to have this one built and customized how you want it, and now have to go out and buy something, it's not of equal value," Kiecha Lacey said.

Tollway officials said they've tried to ease homeowners' pain as much as possible.

"We've really though tried to go above and beyond just the relocation expenses we'll provide for homeowners," Kristi LaFleur, executive director of Illinois Toll Highway Authority, said. "Many mortgages were underwater and we had to adopt some special programs and create some special partnerships with other agencies to do the right thing by them."

Tollway officials set up a program to pay-off those underwater mortgages, but the law limits what displaced property owners can receive for relocation expenses.

Lane is living with relatives, and even though she no longer has title to this piece of property, she got a foreclosure notice on it.

"So now we have the issue of resolving that with the credit bureaus," Lane said.

"Governor Quinn always talks about everybody in nobody left out. Clearly these folks are being left out," Rep. Will Davis, (D) Hazel Crest, said.

The connection between the Tri-State Tollway and I-57 should be completed next year.

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