The Willow Road Deal

The Chicago Tribune ran a long articleabout a deal that had been cut with the Village of Northfield and the Illinois Department of Transportation to finally widen Willow Road to four lanes.

The forty-year fight over widening Willow Road settled.

It bought back memories of the horse trading for support among legislators for Governor George Ryan’s infrastructure bill.

He called it Illinois FIRST and, yes, the letters stood for something.

I remember my price was too high.

I asked for four-lanes on Route 47 from the Tollway Reed Road and four lanes on Algonquin Road from Route 31 to Route 47.

In addition, I requested that the State take over Algonquin Road from Route 31 to 47.

I pointed out that every other east-west State road in McHenry and Kane County went west to at least Route 47, except Route 62.

Ryan’s Transportation Secretary would not agree to that.

So I voted against the bill. which it turned out, pretty much screwed the six-county area.

Our percentage of highway money from 43-44% (which Lake Villa’s Bob Churchill negotiated in 1989 when he sponsored a gas tax hike) spent down to 40%.

The six county area has about 56% of the vehicles and about 55% of the lane miles, so 40% is manifestly too low.

But, back to Willow Road.

The State Rep. that represented the area asked if she could make sure a project was not built if she voted “Yes.”

Folks were pretty much stunned at the request. I imagine no one had ever heard one like it before.

“I’ll vote to tax my constituents, if you will spend the money in your districts.”

That was the message I heard.

Now she is no longer in the General Assembly and the road is being widened.

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