Lake County trafficChicago Tribune - May 14, 2017 | original article

By Mary Wisniewski

Lake County has many beauties — the lakes, the forest preserves, the antiques stores.

But one place you don't want to be is on Illinois Route 120 during rush hour, when congestion causes major backups on the partly two-lane highway that runs east/west through the center of the county.

Widening and realigning parts of Route 120 are part of a long-discussed proposal to extend Illinois Route 53 north to Lake County and turn it into a T-shaped tollway, with Route 120 at the top.

But the 53/120 plan appears to be ailing. Key supporters have backed out. The Illinois Tollway voted in December 2015 to spend up to $50 million for a comprehensive environmental study, but nothing has happened.

Meanwhile, communities along Route 120, also known as Belvidere Road, have grown tired of waiting. The county's population has almost doubled in the past 50 years, and a road that had served a mostly rural area is now a key suburban connection. Local officials want to work with federal, state and county leaders to fix the troubled route soon, regardless of whether the ambitious Route 53 component ever happens.

"I think 120 is the number one priority that Lake County needs," said Lake County Board Chair Aaron Lawlor, who dropped his support for the Route 53 expansion last year. "That's the number one project that's been held hostage by 53 in the last 50 years."

Grayslake Village Manager Mike Ellis said he did not have an opinion on Route 53. "My concern is 120 and what can be done," Ellis said.

Grayslake and the communities of Lakemoor, Volo, Round Lake, Round Lake Park and Hainesville got together to come up with a consensus list of Belvidere Road improvements. Ellis said the communities want to focus local and state leaders' attention on Route 120.

"It's a long road to get to the road," Ellis said. "The quicker we can get these specific improvements on people's minds, the better."

State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said her office will hold meetings over the summer with the Illinois Department of Transportation, road builders and other stakeholders about Route 120.

"These are improvements that have needed to be done in the last 20 years," Bush said.

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Category: In The News