Response to Kane Co. Board Member Becky Gillam
Becky Gillam, Member of the Kane Co. Board and supporter of Longmeadow Parkway has used a Facebook post* to challenge the information presented by our group who oppose the project. We appreciate her comments because we believe an open discussion, wherein all sides of the story are examined, is in the public interest. We welcome the debate. We will briefly address her points here. For a more detailed response we encourage readers to read through our Position Papers at www.stoplongmeadow.com/position-papers.
MIs-information – We are mystified by her accusation that we are spreading “mis-information”. In fact, the information we have presented was gathered almost exclusively from public sources; most of it from the KDOT website. We have diligently tried to identify the sources of our information so the public can check the facts for themselves. If anyone questions any of our information we will gladly identify its source.
Traffic congestion – We have pointed out that the KDOT traffic studies show that the proposed bridge will do very little to reduce congestion on existing Fox River bridges. Projected traffic flows vary under different tolling regimes. We have focused on “Toll Scenario 3” because it is the regime that the KDOT report recommends. It is possible that the County may elect to use another tolling regime, but unlikely, because the others raise significantly less toll revenue and require a greater contribution from other sources, most likely tax funded sources. In response to Mrs. Gillam’s critique, we present the traffic reductions under all tolling regimes in the following table. The source of this information is the Wilbur Smith & Assoc. report for KDOT which is posted on the KDOT website.
The KDOT report indicates that the margin of error for the traffic projections is +/- 10%. In all but one instance the projected traffic reductions are at or below the margin of error. This is the basis for our conclusion that the new bridge will do very little to reduce congestion on existing bridges, regardless of the toll regime.
Future growth –Mrs. Gillam contends that the bridge is necessary to serve future growth in the area. This may have seemed a valid reason when the bridge was being planned in 1995, but it is no longer. In the 90’s the region was growing at a robust rate. However, the growth trends have reversed and can no longer be cited as a valid reason for a huge capital expense. CMAP’s recent publications show that the growth rate in Kane Co. is currently close to zero and trending down. The CMAP data is discussed on our website.
Mrs. Gillam identifies new developments that, in her mind are driving the need for the bridge (i.e. the Conservancy in Gilberts off Huntley and Galligan Rd). We wonder if the County intends to levy impact fees or special assessments on these developments that are driving the need for this expensive bit of new infrastructure.
Financial plan – The County has not produced a financial plan for the project that identifies the sources of funding for the project. We have requested it under FOIA, and we anxiously await its publication.
Mrs. Gillam makes a very curious statement, saying the Toll Scenario 3 would only be used if no other funding sources are available; the inference is that tolls alone will pay for Longmeadow. This is a very misleading statement. Tolls might pay for much of the bridge, but will not come close to paying for the remainder of the project. Other funding sources will be necessary under any tolling scenario.
Also, Mrs. Gillam is assuming that the very rosy, overly optimistic estimates of toll revenue in the KDOT report will be realized. We believe they will not. There are major factors at work that are very likely to drastically reduce toll collections in the future. When that happens Kane Co. taxpayers may become responsible for paying for the bonds floated to build the project. Longmeadow Parkway will be, at best a bad deal for taxpayers, and at worst a financial debacle. This issue is discussed on our website.
Mrs. Gillam extols the fact that $62 million has already been secured for the project. We believe she must be referring to money from IDOT and the federal government. What she, and many of our politicians seem to forget is that this is still taxpayer money. The State of Illinois and the federal budget are facing very serious problems. These problems are due, in part, to government’s wasteful, needless spending. Longmeadow Parkway is a good example.
Summary – We all understand that our country and our region require an effective and efficient transportation system. We understand that large capital projects have enormous economic, environmental and social costs. When there is an overriding public benefit the project should be built. However, after careful consideration of Longmeadow Parkway, we see no such overriding benefit.
We believe that other, more cost-effective, means must exist to deal with traffic originating in the areas west of the Fox River. We hope the County, IDOT, ISTHA and others will devote their attention to this issue. We will support their efforts.
*Find the post at Becky Gillam's Facebook Page HERE. You have to scroll down to find the one from May 31, where she addresses the congestion chart used at the Dundee Township meeting. Since she has her privacy settings set to "Custom" we cannot give you a direct link to the post.