Opponents of the extension of Route 53 into Lake County are embarking on a campaign to create what they contend would be a better method to ease congestion and preserve open space.
The first step in what is anticipated as a lengthy effort will be presented at 7 p.m. Wednesday, at the Byron Colby Barn, 1561 Jones Point Road, in the Prairie Crossing neighborhood of Grayslake.
"We don't want to come in just opposing what we think is the wrong way to go. We think there is a tremendous opportunity for change," said Barbara Klipp, founder of Midwest Sustainability Group, which initiated the "Go Lake County" campaign.
Representatives from Chicago-based Active Transporation Alliance also will be on hand to discuss how better community planning can provide alternatives to driving while also enhancing health and reducing traffic congestion.
"We're supporting them in their interest to try and come up with some sustainable alternatives to car travel," said Steve Simmons, trail advocacy manager.
Building a better Lake County transportation system is one of three campaigns the nonprofit Midwest Sustainability Group is pursuing along with zero waste and "Advocacy 101" lessons on how to create positive change.
Wednesday will be the first public discussion of the transportation portion, which is being developed in response to the proposed north extension of Route 53 to Route 120, an idea that has ebbed and flowed for more than 50 years.
Last May, tollway directors unanimously approved a $25 million study of route options for an extension, as well as improvements to Route 120. Consultants would start fresh and make a recommendation in four or five years.
Opponents say the would be ineffective and too expensive.
"That really is an old-fashioned way of doing things," Klipp said.
Instead, the emphasis should be on improving existing roads, incorporating needed public transportation and other options to create transit corridors, she said.
But coordination will be needed.
"Everybody's thinking about their own segment and not the entire system," Klipp added.
Wednesday's session will begin the conversation of what a modern transportation system in Lake County would entail.
Funding the elements of any plan someday could be put to voters, who are more likely to support something when they see what they're going to get, Klipp said.
"This is a big job and we'll need a lot of community support to see this through," she said.