Posen residents not happy about interchange impact
BY CASEY TONER email@example.com November 7, 2012 10:50PM
Updated: December 10, 2012 6:17AM
State tollway officials on Wednesday night faced hostility and even some defiance from property owners who are being displaced by an interchange at interstates 57 and 294.
Construction of the long-sought interchange is under way, and a meeting was held in Posen to assist homeowners and business owners who are selling their property and relocating.
The Illinois Toll Highway Authority continues to acquire homes, businesses and apartment buildings in the path of the interchange. The $719 million project, which is part of the authority’s $12 billion improvement program, is expected to be three-quarters complete in 2014.
During the meeting at the Posen Civic Center, tollway authority official Rocco Zucchero said the authority still needs to acquire about 20 homes, 10 businesses and four multifamily buildings in Posen in the footprint of the interchange. He expects the process to be done by June.
Several “relocation specialists” were present to talk with affected property owners and answer questions about selling their homes and businesses. About 30 people attended the meeting, many of whom expressed anger and uncertainty about the situation, including not getting enough money from the tollway authority from the sale of their homes to afford to buy new ones.
Posen resident Stacie Schumuckal was among those upset, saying the interchange project means she will have to lose part of her yard. She still hopes to remain in her house but is not happy at the prospect.
“Who the hell wants to live on a property where an exit ramp is coming onto their property?” Schumuckal said. “They’re going to make us go from homeowners to renters. That’s something that shouldn’t be happening in this country.”
April Smith, another homeowner, said she wasn’t about to surrender.
“The residents are ready to fight,” Smith said, without elaborating. “We’re fighting back and binding together.”
Tollway authority chief engineer Paul Kovacs said crews are working on redirecting Dixie Creek, which runs through the interchange site, and have finished building a bridge that carries southbound I-294 traffic over 147th Street. Work has begun on rebuilding the bridge carrying northbound I-294 traffic.
By year’s end, the Illinois Department of Transportation will complete its reconstruction of the northbound and southbound I-57 bridges over I-294 and the Kedzie Avenue overpass over I-57, according to the tollway authority.
Construction of the interchange, including on and off ramps, is set to begin in the spring, Kovacs said.