LA GRANGE – La Grange resident Matthew Barrette stood before the La Grange Village Board on Monday night and asked that it put into writing its stance on the possibility of an overpass at 47th Street and East Avenue.
"We don't want an overpass," Barrette said, adding that residents have strongly voiced their collective opinion.
Barrette did not get his wish, as Village President Liz Asperger said "we don't proclaim a stance on an issue or situation that hasn't actually presented itself." But several of the board's trustees said they think the board should get something on paper.
The overpass is being considered as part of the Chicago Region Environmental Transportation and Efficiency Program (CREATE). The potential project has become a hot topic since the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) formed a community advisory group in March to evaluate options for the intersection, currently a four-way stop.
IDOT also held a public meeting to discuss the issue. Asperger said IDOT got the message "loud and clear" from residents that they do not favor an overpass at the intersection, which many think would increase traffic and affect bordering Sedgwick Park.
Asperger also sought to clarify the position of U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-3rd, saying that reports that Lipinski has allocated specific amounts of money for the construction of an overpass are false. Lipinski told The Doings earlier this week that “there seems to be a misunderstanding that a grade separation is preordained and that I support it. I want what the community wants in that area.”
Asperger said the board will continue to communicate with Lipinski about the project, as well as with residents.
Although Asperger said the board proclaiming a resolution against the overpass is "not something we do," several trustees were open to the idea. Trustees Mark Kuchler, Michael Horvath and Jim Palermo agreed with Barrette that it would be appropriate for the board to put its stance in writing. Trustee Jeff Nowak said he would be open to the idea.
Nowak said he has learned a lot about public opinion on the issue through a Facebook group started by residents. The 47th Street/East Avenue Community Group currently has 239 members. Nowak said the group has posted a number of relevant news stories about the topic and provided thoughtful insight from residents.
IDOT is also considering implementing a traffic light at the intersection. Takeaway from the public meeting with IDOT officials was that residents favor the traffic signal, Asperger said.
IDOT plans to recommend a design approval for the project in June 2015.