Some Long Grove trustees are hoping to spur residents into helping fight a proposed extension of Route 53 north of where it ends at Lake-Cook Road, a proposal they say won't benefit the village.
One idea is from Trustee Michael Sarlitto, who is seeking residents in his subdivision who are willing to submit Freedom of Information Act requests to the Illinois Toll Highway Authority for documents with data supporting officials' statements about the benefits of bringing Route 53 through the village into Lake County.
Sarlitto said many questions about the proposal seemingly go unanswered by state officials at forums and similar public sessions.
"We are forced into levering the only mechanism left to inquiring minds interested in learning more from our governmental (and) public organizations -- FOIA requests," Sarlitto said.
Trustee Chuck Nora said a special meeting could be held to "recruit" residents to help oppose the Route 53 extension plan, an idea that drew agreement from Village President Bill Jacob.
Long Grove's elected officials at village board sessions in August raised concerns about the planning process for what now is called the Tri-County Access Project.
Tollway consultants are conducting a $25 million study of whether to extend the controversial road north to Route 120 in Lake County from the Palatine-Long Grove border. While supporters hope it will move traffic faster through the region and spur economic growth, opponents including leaders in Long Grove and Hawthorn Woods are concerned about pollution, cost and the loss of established neighborhoods.
Sarlitto said he's consulted about the open-records effort with an Illinois representative from Americans for Prosperity, a national tax policy reform organization. He said Long Grove residents can get the tollway's attention by submitting many FOIA requests for Route 53 data.
"It's more than just a comment," he said. "You're asking them to do something and provide information."
Tollway spokesman Dan Rozek said the agency is committed to seeking public input for the Tri-County Access Project.
He said the regional study will determine how to best address traffic congestion in a way that is environmentally and fiscally responsible.
Rozek said the effort to attract public input will continue with a second open house on the project from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at Concorde Banquets, 20922 N. Rand Road in Kildeer.
"We continue to welcome questions, suggestions and any other feedback from residents, business owners, local officials, transportation agencies and environmental groups as we proceed with this study," he said.