In a word, yes. The Federal Highway Administration requires that all reasonable alternative solutions be considered under guidelines provided by the National Environmental Policy Act. The Tri-County Access Project will evaluate improvements to public transit, improvements to active transportation, and Transportation Systems Management (TSM) strategies in addition to improvements to the roadway network.
It is important to note that a No-Build Alternative will be considered throughout the study process.
Public input and engagement is critical for this process. All comments, whether through the website, public meetings or letters, are recorded and become part of the official project record.
Public feedback will be considered throughout the project and will be instrumental in capturing local needs and concerns.
The Illinois Tollway Board unanimously approved the study in May 2017. The study will be paid for through the agency’s existing budget and at no additional cost to taxpayers.
The Tri-County Access Project study area covers an approximately 1,000 square miles in northeastern Illinois and a portion of southern Wisconsin in order to fully understand the transportation problems and potential effects of any alternatives considered. The study area includes three primary counties – Lake County in its entirety, eastern McHenry County and northern Cook County – and also considers the travel interrelationship with portions of DuPage and Kenosha counties.
The expansive study area is consistent with the project’s commitment to taking a comprehensive, regional approach to examining transportation challenges and hearing from all who are affected. The boundaries were created with the understanding that our transportation challenges impact the entire region and are not defined by state borders.
The study area conditions inform the development and evaluation of effects of the alternatives. However, proposed improvements to address the transportation needs will be developed and examined within a smaller subsection of the study area – or the “Project Improvement Area” – where a need for transportation improvements is identified.
Although pertinent information from prior studies will be incorporated in the Environmental Impact Statement for the Tri-County Access Project, under the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the EIS process is the only means through which a decision can be made. The projects’ expansive public involvement program is designed to encourage maximum input to the EIS process from the public and all involved parties. The EIS is a document that contains all the information FHWA, the Tollway, and IDOT need to make a formal decision on the preferred alternative. This decision will ultimately be documented in a Record of Decision (ROD) by FHWA Prior studies, including theBlue Ribbon Advisory Council (BRAC), IL 120 Unified Vison Plan, the IL 53 Feasibility Analysis, and the Lake County Transportation Improvement Project, either focused on a single alternative, require updated information, or were never completed.