Plan to Extend Route 53/120 in Lake County Takes Step Forward

The Illinois Tollway Board of Directors is expected to approve a new contract with TranSystem later this month.

The Illinois Tollway’s Finance Administration Operations and Strategic Planning Committees today recommended approval of a $4 million contract award to Schaumburg-based TranSystems Corp. to continue to plan for the proposed extension of Illinois Route 53/120 in Lake County.

“This is an important step forward for the Illinois Route 53/120 Extension, which is expected to create thousands of jobs and drive economic development in Lake County and the region for decades to come,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “This project can also serve as a national model for how to design and build a roadway that preserves and protects the environment and local communities.”

The new contract recommended for approval today will develop a detailed engineering concept, evaluate cost estimates, refine traffic and revenue analyses and survey customers’ willingness to pay tolls on the proposed extension. The contract also includes services to study the environmental and economic impacts of the project. Work is expected to take 18 months to complete.

Open and transparent process

“The Blue Ribbon Advisory Council’s recommendations were the result of an open and transparent process that included tremendous cooperation that helped us reach consensus on this project,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “We expect this process to be a model for planning for all Tollway projects moving forward. The contract that we are recommending today allows us to continue this important work.”

Another key recommendation from the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council was development of a coordinated, corridorwide land use plan. Last June, after reviewing the Council’s report, the Tollway's Strategic Planning Committee agreed to participate such a plan.

Lake County and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) are working to advance the land use plan through CMAP’s Local Technical Assistance program. The process will actively engage each municipality along the corridor to develop an integrated plan for land use, transportation, economic development and open space. The Blue Ribbon Advisory Council recommended that the completed plan be adopted by Lake County and each municipality. The corridor plan process is expected to be underway by mid-2013.

“We are very happy to see this important project move forward,” said Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor. “Lake County will continue to take an active role in making the project a reality and is happy to partner with CMAP in advancing the corridorwide land use plan.”

“This project provides an opportunity to not only build a road that’s in harmony with nature, but also forge an integrated plan for development in Central Lake County,” said George Ranney, co-chair of the Illinois Route 53/120 Blue Ribbon Advisory Council.


The Illinois Route 53/120 Extension is expected to cost between $2.3 and $2.7 billion. Cost estimates developed as part of the detailed engineering concept will inform future discussions on how to finance the project and potential sources of revenue. This could include local and other sources, as recommended by the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council.

The Illinois Tollway Board of Directors is expected to approve the contract with TranSystems Corp. at its Feb. 28 meeting.

The Blue Ribbon Advisory Council brought together public officials and representatives from business, labor, planning and environmental groups to assist in the planning and potential building of the Illinois Route 53/120 Extension in Lake County. Its final report recommended that the Tollway proceed with further development of Illinois Route 53 as a four-lane, 45 mph tolled parkway. The report also outlined the scope, configuration and design elements of the new roadway and proposed a financial framework for the project. 

Submitted by the Illinois Tollway

Sean G. February 22, 2013 at 12:38 AM
I have lived in Libertyville for 16 years and the same "talk" was happening back then. MAYBE in 15 more years it will happen but economically there is no longer the need as business and individuals leave for other states.
Daniel J. February 22, 2013 at 01:24 AM
45 mph, they're not being reasonable. That's just stupid.
Sean G. February 22, 2013 at 01:28 AM
Actually it's quite smart, more tickets equals more revenue plus they can sell the idea to Long Grove residents that there will be "less noise".
William d Brown February 22, 2013 at 12:55 PM
Plan has been on the table since at least 65 Finally it has surfaced Look for signs that say ROW that tells you where it will go. ( right of way )
John February 22, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Why on earth would they design a TOLLWAY that requires a speed limit of 45mph?
Janet February 22, 2013 at 01:42 PM
JJ, this will be 45 MPH like Buckley Rd is 45 MPH. People drive 60 and more between St Marys Rd. and Milwaukee Ave. just to wait at the stop light for 5-10 minutes during rush hour. LOL
Bill Morris February 22, 2013 at 02:27 PM
This is just another waste of money. I guess you could call it "hush money" to keep the political and business leaders happy with a $4-million study but NO plans by the Tollway Board to build Rt. 53/120 for a minimum of 15-years and probably longer. When the Tollway raised rates 87.5% they said they didn't have any of the $2.3 to $2.8 billion to build Rt. 53/120 but they could find nearly $4 billion to build a new tollway for DuPage and Cook County behind O'Hare and so far DuPage only has agreed to put in something like $100-million. This new study will probably propose the highest tolls in Illinois to build Rt. 53 and some kind of a special tax on Lake County. The experts said Rt. 53 had the highest need to ease congestion, but it got left off the list of projects. Don't be fooled. This is just a $4 million expenditure to keep folks in Lake County quiet for a few years. Bill Morris
David Levinson February 22, 2013 at 04:02 PM
People are taking trains more than ever. Too bad the Tollway Agency can't include plans for a light rail system (like down the middle of the Kennedy or Dan Ryan). http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-02-27/news/9402270449_1_tollway-authority-tollway-officials-light-rail-line
GL Resident February 22, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Rt53/120 has always been spun as a way to ease congestion for the embattled Lake County commuter. Nonsense! In reality, it was always meant as a prime feeder into the main tollway system to drive Tollway revenue. Wonder who owns the land in the right-of-ways and egresses? They will make big $$ if and when this happens.
Bob Miaples February 22, 2013 at 10:30 PM
The state owns the majority of the land already. The project has been talked about since the sixties but has moved little due to lack of consensus. Lake County got consensus when they overwhelmingly passed the non binding 53 referendum in April 2007. Since then everyone has been getting on board and you can bet it may take awhile but this project is finally moving forward.
Charles February 22, 2013 at 10:47 PM
I've always had mixed emotions about the extension. I could never really make up my mind either way.
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Steve July 12, 2013 at 02:18 PM
If you want it or not I would recommend contacting your state elected officials. I am from DuPage County but I think there would be a benefit to the 53 extension. I dont understand on why it would be 45 MPH. That doesnt make any sense. Either make it a "real" tollway or expand it and leave it "free" or no tolls.
Bernard Johnson July 18, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Sure. go ahead, pave over more of Lake County and see what flooding issues arise. $2.7 billion dollars - for a roadway with a speed limit of 45 mph, brilliant. Who's going to pay for the primary and/or secondary infrastructure to go along with it, e.g., water-drain-off, retention-ponds, traffic reorganization along each intersecting secondary roadway leading to and/or from it, etc, etc? Here's a concept for you to consider; how about Lake County establish a permit fee based on each square foot of land to be developed that gets earmarked for infrastructure? Why should current Lake County residents continue to pay and pay for what amounts to providing access to cheaper land for developers to make their money and run, and leave us with the tabs for enabling them to make their profits? Where's the development fee{s} for waste, water, police, fire, schools, etc, etc, that SHOULD be insitituted for every new square foot of land that's build up? This cost-shifting really has to end. There's plenty of developed property across Lake County that exists and is in dire need of rehabilitation; how about starting with North Chicago and Waukegan? We DON'T need more tollways, we need to rehab and maintain what we've got!
Bernard Johnson July 18, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Those who've chosen and/or chose to move to exurbia shouldn't expect others to pay for their logistical needs. If you want to move to/live or work in... the boonies - go ahead, but, don't expect me to pay for your infrastructure! If those of us on the North Shore wanted to live in a megalopolis, the East-coast already exists. Many of us remain here in the Midwest / the greater-Chicago-area because we like it the way it is. Those who've moved to and/or want to move to remote locations in the Collar-counties, go right ahead, but - don't expect the rest of us to subsidize your choices. Get real, if you move to the sticks - expect sticks level infrastucture. DuPage, McHenry, I mean - you might was well be in Iowa; so, don't impose the true costs of your cheap land costs on those of us already here and/or paying our own way.
Bernard Johnson July 18, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Incidentally, if you think you can trust Springfield or the Tollway authority to represent the best interests of Lake County residents I'd ask you if you've driven on Route 41 lately? Since the tolls on 294 have been exponentially increased the amount of commercial traffic along 94, on 41 up and into Wisconsin has profoundly increased. 18-wheelers - seeking to avoid the confiscatory tolls on 294, have moved over to 41. Traffic congestion and road-decay on Route 41 are directly related to the costs of Northeastern-Illinois tollroads. We DON'T need more tollways, what we DO need is to maintain our existing infrastructure, to introduce true High Speed Rail across the greater Chicago-area and to cease letting Springfield plunder our pockets. Why not construct METRA-commuter rail extensions along either side of 294? The 'L' that was put in the middle of the Kennedy should have been put underground from the start, thereby allowing two more lanes of traffic in either direction on the surface; but, it wasn't and the Kennedy is now often in a state of gridlock. Illinois and the greater Chicago-areas so called 'planners' haven't a clue. It's all about graft and corruption. Stop building more roads!
William d Brown July 18, 2013 at 10:17 PM
I am guessing Bernie bought a home backing up to the row


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