October 6, 2015
Ms. Kay Batey, Division Administrator
Federal Highway Administration
3250 Executive Park Drive
Springfield, Illinois 62703
Regarding the Kane County Division of Transportation Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor Initial Financial Plan:
Dear Ms. Batey:
The Kane County Division of Transportation left out some important details in their financial plan to the Federal Highway Administration. Most important—they are subject to a citizen binding referendum on the question of whether bonds should be issued by the county for construction of the Longmeadow Parkway Toll Bridge according to Illinois law, 30 ILCS 350/1, sections 5 and 15. Residents will have the right to petition to put the bond question on an election ballot. Since it is highly unlikely that taxpayers will approve being on the hook for a toll project, federal funds will be wasted building part of a project that will end up dead when the taxpayers vote no.
Also, the county refers to 605 ILCS 5/10-303 as a law that gives them the right to issue general obligation bonds when the law clearly states that toll bridges will only be funded with revenue bonds. The county is well aware that revenue bonds will not sell since tolls will not pay them back and they are skirting this law with their determination to sell general obligation bonds.
It’s my understanding that federal funds should not be used for toll projects with a few exceptions. Could you please tell me how the county qualifies for an exception? Taxpayers would also like to know what the final ruling is to the county request for a “de minimis” finding from the Federal Highway Administration for the Longmeadow Parkway Improvement. A “de minimis” impact finding can only be made where the transportation use does not adversely affect the activities, features, or attributes that qualify a property for protection under Section 4(f). The Longmeadow project will cause damage to the environment of public lands that can’t be mitigated. The project bisects a public forest preserve, the Brunner property, and does damage that was never evaluated. I would like to know the final determination as the Taxpayers against Longmeadow Toll Bridge will seek legal counsel should de minimus be granted to the county. Please consider the underlined questions as a Freedom of Information request if needed.
Finally, the county continues to list Barrington Hills as a supporter of the project even though the village has since voted against any support of Longmeadow Parkway. Page 5 of the report erroneously reports that “public meetings and hearing have been conducted with the general support of the public” and that is simple not true. The public has spoken out—time after time—against the project. Since the report also states, “federal funds are a significant source of funding for the project” I would appreciate your consideration in denying funds to this contested toll project.