Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Stinson preparing as Porter's rep to vote Thursday on Illiana plan

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By PAULENE POPARAD

Porter Town Council member Greg Stinson said he’s being lobbied hard with about 20 to 25 emails a day.

He’s planning to attend Thursday’s meeting as a member of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission to cast his vote on whether to include the controversial Illiana Expressway in NIRPC’s 2040 Plan.

The Executive Committee/Full Commission convenes at 9 a.m. in the Sycamore Room of Portage’s Woodland Park.

The Illiana as proposed is a 47-mile, approximately $1.3 billion private/public partnership to be operated as a toll road connecting I-55 south of Joliet, Ill., to I-65 south of Crown Point in Lake County.

Indiana’s plans could include the widening of I-65 from U.S. 30 south of Merrillville to U.S. 231 at Crown Point.

Proponents say the Illiana will divert truck traffic from the sometimes-congested I-94/Borman Expressway, which passes through Burns Harbor, Porter and Chesterton, and link the south-Chicago suburbs with Northwest Indiana.

Opponents say the Illiana negatively will affect quality of life and livelihoods along and near its route, and promote urban sprawl in rural areas.

After Tuesday’s Porter council meeting, Stinson said he’s leaning toward casting a “no” vote on the Illiana. He said he has not talked to the other Porter council members about the matter other than president Elka Nelson.

Stinson said he’s followed the Illiana all along as a NIRPC member and originally was leaning toward a “yes” vote but financial questions and a concern about firm commitments in Illinois make him wonder if Indiana would be building a road to nowhere.

He also said as a statistician by profession at Valparaiso University, he is able to look with an educated eye at Illiana projection studies.

A large deciding factor in his vote is the input Stinson’s receiving from Porter residents and from people across the area, both lifelong and new, overwhelmingly voicing opposition. He also noted he’s received a lot of information from lobbying groups in Indiana and Illinois in favor of the project

NIRPC’s Full Commission consists of 53 members and Stinson said he doesn’t know whether the vote will be one member, one vote or use NIRPC’s weighted voting system that because of population gives Porter a very, very small percentage of the ballots cast.

Stinson said information about the Illiana is available at www.nirpc.org/illiana-expressway-project.

 

Posted 12/11/2013