Idiot Proofing Fleming Road Not Necessary

That’s what Fleming Road resident Lisa Rhoades told the McHenry County Department of Transportation Tuesday.

Her comments follow:

The State of Illinois has provided us with the Vision of Transportation for the 21st Century:  The cornerstone words are Livable and Sustainable.  These words are specifically intended to guide Transportation Design to primarily benefit the Individual Community that a roadway will serve while providing a means for non-local residents to travel through.

Some highlights on the State of the Fleming Road Project:

First, there is a threshhold issue that needs your attention:  A multi-million dollar project was launched by this body on a Consent Agenda.  A Cost /Benefit Analysis could not have been presented let alone refined during this authorization process – bypassing due diligence.  We ask that one is conducted post-haste.

At the urging of the Fleming Road Alliance (FRA) and to comply with IDOT Context Sensitive Solutions Policy, a mandated Community Advisory Group (CAG) was organized. Its composition is heavy in governmental entities, TranSystems engineers and MCDOT Engineers. The membership list is attached to this note.

With the State of Illinois Vision in mind, the CAG developed Project Goals that support the Vision –

  1. Replace Deteriorated Pavement
  2. Improve Safety
  3. Maintain Character of Corridor
  4. Minimize Impact to Residents

A couple of summers ago the McHenry County Transportation Department patched part of Flemming Road.

With those Goals in Mind, Design Criteria was presented by MCDOT. Fleming Road Alliance and individuals, including me, requested the addition of Design Criteria that included the a) Irreplaceable Class III groundwater, b) the sensitive aquifer, c) and the full functioning ecosystem provided by the historic forests, among others.

This process that is designed to reach consensus through collaboration has broken down. Input on Design Criteria from the CAG has been ignored. Only TranSystems and MCDOT concerns are reflected.

This is like answering a question with only partial information – as we all know, a little bit of knowledge is dangerous.

During the Study Phase, MCDOT determined that statistically, safety concerns did not rise to a level that required remediation. Therefore Time, Money and Energy for designing to safety standards were not necessary and prudently should be eliminated.  In other words, It is not necessary to Idiot Proof the road.

Drainage was also proven to be a problem in only two specific spots along the road – the prudent response would also be to only design drainage solutions for those two spots.  Yet, instead of pulling resources from those activities, designs just received for CAG#4, significantly alter infiltration, drainage, tree placement, slopes etc. along the entire roadway.

A lot has been made of Saving Trees.

The U.S. Department of Transportation studies show that Tall Trees along narrow pavement are proven to be safer to the motoring public than no trees along wide open roads.

The sign says, "Save Our Trees & Hills"

It’s a simple matter of when a driver “feels” the need to pay attention.

A sample of the many facits of a trees value to our county and community are:

  • economic,
  • health,
  • safety,
  • privacy,
  • environmental, etc.

At the last CAG#3, Kevin Keesee clearly stated that the Design Criteria have still not been updated.

This means that not only are we being ignored, but resources are being spent to design for issues that do not require remediation.

Who is in charge of monitoring and altering the finances of the project?

It seems like the Fox is running the Hen House!

Some materials for CAG 4 have been put out and dogmatically continue:

  • ignoring the input from the residents,
  • ignoring the full picture of the design criteria
  • ignoring the decisions and consensus from the CAG
  • and ignoring the results of the Trans Systems own studies.

In addition, the conditions and allowances for the Natural Heritage Corridor that is being built along Fleming Road, also need to be inserted into the designs.

Working with this new and exciting program will show that the CSS process and the democratic process are alive and well in McHenry County.

Every project using significant funds requires periodic evaluation of Readiness to determine when it is appropriate to move on to the next phase.

As the body with final responsibility for McHenry County transportation projects, the taxpayers rely on you and ask you to determine if the Fleming Road Project Status indicates

  • Green – Go (to the next phase),
  • Yellow – Caution (More discovery needed),
  • Red – Stop (Conditions have changed or problems exist that must be addressed).

A Readiness Evaluation considers all of the major issues of a project in their fluid / evolving state:  Financial, Management, Environment, Communication, Economic, Goals and Objectives.

The Evaluation asks the make or break questions.

Because there are so many important questions that are not answered, I am happy to schedule a work session with any of you interested in building the Readiness Evaluation.

Please take charge of this process. Democracy is circumvented when elected officials are not actively involved.

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