Advice to the County Board on Randall Road

The following is from Lakewood bond analyst and political activist Steve Willson and appeared first as a comment under the article “NWH Herald Editor Has Doubts about Spending $100 Million to Widen Randall Road.”

The backup on Randall Road during rush hour on Tuesday, July 8, 2014.

The backup on Randall Road approaching the intersection with Algonquin Road during rush hour on Tuesday, July 8, 2014.

To the County Board:

There is an objective and simple method for determining if a road should be built.

  1. Determine how many vehicles per day the road can handle, usually measured per lane.
  2. Count the number of vehicle using the road per day.
  3. Divide #2 by #1. If the number is generally below capacity, STOP!
  4. Examine the construction cost of the road versus the cost of similar roads. If the cost is dramatically higher than the average, then the road is too expensive. STOP!
  5. Determine the annualized cost and divide by the number of benefited drivers. (Only drivers during periods when the road is beyond capacity will benefit, not all drivers.) If the cost is a multiple of the cost of using the tollway, then the road is too expensive. STOP!
  6. Determine the time savings to each benefited driver. If it is only a minute or two, STOP!

If the presenters to the board did not explain this methodology and provide the factual answers to these questions, then they were attempting to mislead the board.

Ask these questions and demand the answers.


your job is not to ratify staff recommendations, it is to verify staff recommendations.

Staff will ALWAYS push for more spending.

It’s YOUR job, board members, to push back, to be the taxpayers’ advocate, to be watchdogs — not cheerleaders.


Advice to the County Board on Randall Road — 12 Comments

  1. Sound advice for every level of government.

    The days of politicians building “monuments” to themselves must end.

  2. You should have been outside the County building after this morning’s County Board meeting.

    There were very emotional comments made during the meeting relative to the declaration of McHenry County bicycle week (for those who want to replace Randall Rd with a bike path).

    After the meeting several of the spandex wearers were observed loading their bicycles into their gas guzzling SUVs.

    Unfortunately the camera on my phone did not work.

  3. I would add to Steve’s comment, a quick ‘gut check’.

    Is congestion on Randall road causing people to leave McHenry County or is it the high taxes and overall poor economic climate?

    Will “improving” the road cause more people to stay?

    Will the increased taxes cause more people to leave?

    Another point that never seems to come up is the increased cost of maintenance and eventual replacement.

    Bigger roads cost more on both counts.

  4. So TRUE I know of projects NONE of this was Done!!! beforehand just spent the $$ and made things worse!

    still happening even to this day!!!

    again nothing is done Correctly,

    all it is, is one hand washing the other ! over and over….

    even when suggested this should have been done First and Foremost was Ignored!

    lets just bull this right on thru who cares what the proper protocol should be!

    state and local working to not do things Right for the actual Citizens Safety just the tax $$ !

  5. By the way, these aren’t just MY questions.

    These questions summarize the methodology explained in The Highway Capacity Manual, published by Transporation Research Board.

  6. Steve, I completely agree that board positions are not just to be a rubber stamp and approve.

    However, to verify all of the information and make an informed judgement after all questions have been asked and answers verified.

  7. What is encouraging is when Andrew Gasser, Bob Nowak and I were running for county board in District #1, the turnabout on Randall Road appeared to be almost a sure thing.

    Now a few years later the issue of whether any expansion is necessary is being revisited by County Board with strong citizen input.

    This is a good sign for McHenry County and I am more confident with this discussion that after all the dust settles, the correct decision will be made.

    By walking this issue back I believe County Board members like Andrew Gasser, this blog and the bloggers on this blog deserve an applause.

    While I have at times been critical of Andrew’s politcal style and poltical ties to the Joe Walsh team when it comes to endorsing candidates without vetting the competition, I would not catagorize Andrew as a rubber stamp when it comes to issues confronting the County.

    There simply is no support for this claim.

    Well done Andrew et al.

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