Critics and a handful of supporters gathered Wednesday night in Buffalo Grove to take a closer look at the proposed plans to widen, improve and construct new roads in the village.
Many residents voiced opposition to what government agencies have chosen as the preferred option as they examined poster-sized maps and charts at an open house-style public hearing.
The preferred design was recommended out of three options in 2012 by Civiltech, the engineering firm hired by Buffalo Grove to conduct the road study. It also has been supported by Lake County, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, Civiltech engineer Bob Andres said.
“Based on the analysis of the needs and the impacts, this had the least impact on the overall area,” Andres said.
The plan requires the acquisition of seven homes — five along Weiland Road, and two between Aptakisic and Prairie roads — and one business in the Aptakisic/Prairie area.
Roadway plans include the addition of one lane in each direction on Lake-Cook Road and Weiland Road south of Aptakisic Road to reduce traffic congestion. The plan also calls for the realignment of Short Aptakisic Road, which would be moved about 200 feet south between Buffalo Grove Road and Route 83 in an effort to reduce cut-through traffic in commercial parking lots and improve safety.
Additionally, it includes the construction of a new road that would connect Weiland Road to Prairie Road north of Aptakisic Road. That road is expected to reduce traffic on Aptakisic by providing a new route for northbound and southbound drivers who currently head east or west on Aptakisic to navigate the area.
Officials at Village of Buffalo Grove, which is funding the Phase I study along with the Cook County Highway Department, have not taken a position as a board, but at least one trustee voiced displeasure with the plan.
“I don’t see a massive improvement in the flow of traffic,” said Andy Stein, who attended the public hearing.
He was among several residents who said they would rather see an alternative improvement plan adopted.
“I would prefer option 2, which is widening Weiland Road, adding turn lanes and bypassing a connector,” Stein said. “It’s less intrusive to the residents living in the Mirielle subdivision.”
Debbie and Arnold Cohen, who live in the Mirielle subdivision, agreed.
“We’re very disappointed in the presentation because they chose not to include the alternatives,” Debbie Cohen said.
“If they really want to get public feedback, they would show us both,” Arnold Cohen agreed.
The Cohens said they don’t think the recommended plan will reduce traffic on Aptakisic Road.
Instead, they said, the proposed connector road will bring traffic — and resulting noise — much closer to their home and likely generate residential cut-through traffic from drivers who want to avoid intersections along the connector road.
Buffalo Grove resident Tim O’Connor, who has been among the most outspoken opponents to the plans throughout the process, said he remains opposed to the recommendation.
“I would begrudgingly support option 2. I don’t think this is necessary. It’s really a fancy charade, this whole thing,” he said. “I just think there are so many other things we could spend our time on in the village. This is a mountain out of a molehill.”
He said he believes the traffic study presented with the recommendation, which shows traffic volume in 2008 and projections for 2040, is out of date.
“I can tell you, the roads are not as busy as they were in 2008,” he said.
Buffalo Grove cyclist Jerry Meyerhoff was among few residents who praised the improvement plans. He said he was pleased with the plans to include bike lanes on both sides of Weiland Road. Designated space for bicyclists was his request after he noticed no such accommodations were included in the plans displayed at a public information meeting in 2010, he said.
“I’ve seen some passionate presentations from citizens and the staffers are listening attentively,” he said.
Buffalo Grove Trustee Les Ottenheimer, who attended the hearing, emphasized that the plans are not final.
“Is everything here right now set in stone? No, it’s not,” he said.
“When progress goes forward, it’s just going to hurt some people,” he acknowledged. “We will put pressure on the [agencies] when we can to minimize the pressure."
Andres said he expects the proposal to receive design approval from IDOT in March 2014.
After that, it’s expected to take until 2016 to acquire the needed land and prepare contracts, according to the presentation. In the third and final phase of the project, slated to span from 2015 until at least 2018, contracts would be awarded, the public would be notified and construction would begin.
Written public comments about the project will be accepted until Oct. 31. Comments can be sent to Mr. Darren T. Monico, P.E., Village Engineer, Village of Buffalo Grove, 51 Raupp Blvd., Buffalo Grove IL 60089.