Steve Willson on Randall Road Expansion Need

Apparently stimulated by my little article on the pothole on the McDonald’s side of Randall Road near the traffic light in Algonquin, bond analyst Steve Willson has written about how a road approval or disapproval should be determined.

Since this is a vibrant issue in the District 1 County Board race, I thought I would share it more broadly:

How to Figure Out Whether a Road Improvement Makes Sense

For every public policy decision at the local level, there is a logical method for determining the best procedure.

The corner of Algonquin and Randall Roads.

The corner of Algonquin and Randall Roads.

All elected officials, whether County Board members, municipal council members or Township Road Commissioners, should follow a logical and TRANSPARENT procedure for justifying both need and expense.

For roads, the procedure is as follows:

(1) Determine the road’s capacity.

(2) Determine the utilization on an hourly basis to determine how often and how heavily traffic exceeds capacity.

(3) If it exceeds capacity, determine the cost to relieve congestion.

(4) Compare the cost to what other municipalities pay for road construction (usually measured by lane-mile).

(5) Divide the annual cost (amortized construction plus maintenance) by the number of BENEFITED users (i.e., only those during rush hours).

(6) Proceed ONLY if the cost per lane-mile is reasonable and ONLY if the cost to benefited motorists is reasonable.

None of this has been presented to the public or even the County Board to justify expanding Randall Road.

Randall Road on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, about noon.

Randall Road on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, about noon.

When I examined the statistics myself, I found the following:

(1) Traffic on the stretch of road under consideration has not increased in ten years. This is not surprising given that population has decreased.

(2) The justification for this project is 3% increase in population forever, which is clearly ridiculous.

(3) The road appears to be mildly congested at rush hour, and any improvement would be a matter of a couple of minutes for each rush hour commuter.

(4) The cost — which is a constantly moving target — was a multiple of what other Illinois governments pay.

(5) The average cost per benefited commuter was several times what users pay on the Illinois toll way.

People were demonstrating at the intersection of Algonquin and Randall Roads before the County Board vote.

People were demonstrating at the intersection of Algonquin and Randall Roads before the County Board vote.  The one on the right appears to be Kelly Liebmann, who is running for the County Board from District 6, the part of the county with the most county road miles.

Each time County Board members ask questions about such projects, they are told the project has already been approved because it was part of some giant wish list passed years ago.

Then the rest of their questions are ignored.

It’s time for the County Board to demand answers about ALL of the County’s road projects, not just to act like sheep and pass gold-plated, unnecessary projects without getting answers to basic questions.


Steve Willson on Randall Road Expansion Need — 19 Comments

  1. We need Schuster back and we need Kelly Liebmann on the Board.

    We lose Evertsen at the end of this year and we, the taxpayers really need vocal watchdogs to take her place!!

    Let us also pray for wins by Barnes and Wilbeck to end the Anna May Miller control of the MCDOT.

  2. Presumably there are readers whom travel that stretch during rush hour and peak weekend periods.

    Just keep a log of date, time, road, direction traveled, amount of time it takes to get through the intersection using a voice recorder since it’s not very safe to write and drive in congestion.

    One of the problems is not enough 4 lane (2 lanes each way) alternative roads were built in that area.

    Poor urban planning.

  3. To build a road based on current capacity is irresponsible.

    You don’t wait till there is too much traffic to then tie up traffic with construction.

  4. Maybe Steve Willson should run for County Chair as a Independent this fall.

    He’s offered good logical advise on roads and also on school consolidation just to name a couple.

    He’s also said it’s time to weed out the old corrupt people with conflicts of interest.

    Steve is pure as snow, has the leadership skills and the knowledge to do the JOB.

    Actions speak louder than just sitting in front of a key board and giving advice.

    Run Steve run, considering the others running for that now JOB, you’re almost a shoe in to win.

  5. A comment and retort on the NWH site today.

    Politicians are all about – say whatever gets you elected or re-elected.

    etienne53 5 hours ago

    That is a false statement.

    Not all politicians are like that, especially at the local level. Most of them at the local level run because they love whatever they’re running for, and that’s a problem.

    If you LOVE libraries or park districts or schools, then you’re unlikely to see if they’re doing their job well.

    Instead, you’re just an advocate, a cheerleader.

    These people run with good intent and raise our taxes. And that’s a real problem!

  6. When County Board (or other spending body) Members hire consultants with taxpayer dollars to ‘study’ costly projects, it is like when a financial adviser invests your money in ‘funds-of-funds’ based upon a newsletter he pays for which is giving slanted recommendations based upon how much ad revenue is generated by the mutual funds which themselves charge advisory fees…

    If a Board member is unwilling to do a little independent research before voting on spending millions of dollars of OPM, how can that Board member justify seeking that position of responsibility?

    We would be very Lucky to have Mr. W on the Board; not only would his integrity and intellect be of greater benefit to the community at large, but he would be able to teach fellow board members HOW TO independently ANALYZE BEFORE VOTING (or before voting to spend hundreds of thousands$$ on consultants who produce made-to-order reports).

  7. Inish to build a road on projected capacity is foolish without evidence-based rationale for growth assumptions.

    In this County we have crisis conditions due to property tax rate Critically higher than normal ranges.

    For example, median household income buyers cannot qualify for conventional mortgage loans on median priced homes in many municipalities, as a direct result of property tax rates double or triple the national average.

    (the buyers CAN qualify for homes in areas where property tax rates are WNR (within normal ranges).

    But that means there are half the people in America disqualified as buyers of property here.

    That is a startling statistic and is one which drives away potential buyers even if their household income is enough to qualify; the ‘Bigger Fool Theory’ indicates that buyers who get in may not be able to get out.

    So by what rationale does Randall Road expect more traffic (which is of benefit to McHenry County, not of benefit for Lake County residents working in Chicago)?

    BTW, the Randall Road $120 million by now?

    doesn’t buy any widening as I recall, it merely pays a whopping 30%+ premium top purchase land from owners over inflated prioces of 5 years ago (didn’t McHC Pay a land purchase negotiator $700,000 this year?

    Must have been for Randall Road land deals).

    Then they will build frontage roads to strip mall stores.

  8. Bbbuuuttt what about all the low skill, high paying union jobs that would be created?

  9. When analyzing cost benefit to the payers/recipients, it is part of the process to line up who
    pays, who gets.

    Part of the analytic process also breaks down the amount of the perceived benefit which gets exported:

    16% payroll tax, no local benefit.

    20% federal tax, no local benefit.

    5% State tax, no local benefit.

    *8% McHenry County Property Tax surcharge* (personal research indicates that Mchenry County households pay property taxes 8% higher than median income households in America), no local benefit.

    And that is if ALL laborers are hired locally, which is NOT a requirement that I am aware for the Randall Road Private Property Purchase Project.

    so the other 50% for transient labor on a frontage lane project may or may not have “local” benefit.

    Will PAYERS get any return on their ‘investment’ in Randall Rd.?

    Businesses NOT on Randall RD., but within the County, may argue they are getting a HUGE detriment by making their competitors more frontage roads, and inflating value of competitors property by paying exorbitant premiums for public purchase of private land.

    But this is all my opinion, based upon research of public data.

    I’d like to hear alternative analysis based upon sources which I can verify.

  10. Nob: Thank you, but

    “if nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve.”

    I have another and I think better solution.

    I, along with several other public minded individuals, have created a new organization, the McHenry County Good Government Association (the McGGA).

    The goals of the organization are threefold.

    First, to monitor and publicize the performance of local area governments. With a little training, anyone can keep an eye on his or her city or school district or park district and figure out if and where they’re wasting money.

    Second, to find good candidates to run for office. The biggest problem we have in McHenry County is that the people who choose to run are cheerleaders, not watchdogs. We can’t change the system unless we get good people into office.

    Third, to teach elected officials how to be effective. Even people of good intent are often quickly buried by the bureaucracy. I know one trustee who, at his first meeting, was given a 500 page notebook and told to review it for the next meeting. This kind of thing is far too common. To be effective, elected officials must know how to control the agenda and not be run around by the bureaucracy.

    Membership will be open to anyone.

    It is my intent to seek permanent members from the local Chambers of Commerce, the Realtors, etc.

    The reason is not only that such people have already shown some interest in the community by being members of such organizations and usually have some business sense, but, more important, I want to make the organization self-regenerating.

    It’s common for organizations such as the McGGA to start out strong and then peter out after several years as the founding members age out.

    In short, I hope to harness and galvanize much of the anger that is boiling over in our community and channel it into effective action.

  11. Cop out Steve, with your leadership skills in one term as Chair could turn this county around.

    See that position as a learning experience for yourself to better understand the workings of gov.

    Having that first hand knowledge would help McGGA.

    You say you’re bored, 80k part time JOB if managed properly.

  12. No offer from Nob to join and get involved.

    Yet he wants Steve to run for office, tie up his life for 4 yrs?

    I could say Nob is the cop out who wants to sit at his keyboard.

  13. Nob, I appreciate what you’re saying, and I always appreciate your comments, even when I disagree, because they are always well thought and well presented. I need — we all need — people like you to keep us thinking straight.

    But I’ve served.

    My job is to analyze, educate the public and find good candidates.

    If I can help other good people get elected, then I’m pleased.

    I’d love to see you get more involved, either running or helping to be a watchdog in the McGGA.


  14. Lani I worked for the gov for over 40 years, was a committeeman one term.

    Burned out on the politics, and retired early because of health problems.

    In the 35 years I controlled a budget, we never went over on spending, and often got in trouble for questioning the spending habits of my bosses, administrator and elected officials.

    I’m to blunt and have a potty mouth, I know my limitations.

    Kind of like Trump without the big $$$$. LOL

    Steve, my mouth would not be good for your org, most people don’t like my kind of blunt.

    I’ll keep an eye and what you are doing, so maybe.
    I’ve never heard your take on the last Twh consolidation, we’d have to agree on that or we couldn’t play nicely together.

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