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Anderson Road project delays may stretch on

Kane County transportation officials say they are continuing to work with a local developer and Elburn Village Hall on resuming progress on the Anderson Road extension project.

But when speaking of the project, they now use language indicating it could be some time before work on the project resumes.

“We are doing everything else we can to get the project ready,” said Carl Schoedel, director of the Kane County Division of Transportation. “But it really does boil down to our ability to acquire the property that we need.”

The project to extend Anderson Road from Route 38 to Keslinger Road has been touted for years as a top transportation priority in Elburn and Kane County because it would provide an overpass of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, relieving backups at the Route 47 railroad crossing in downtown Elburn.

The county and the village of Elburn secured $18 million from the federal and state governments for the project.

Earlier this summer, it appeared the project, which long had been on the drawing board, was nearing construction because the county had approved agreements and land purchase deals with a landholding company associated with Geneva-based developer ShoDeen.

But those agreements were “predicated on the understanding” that the Elburn Village Board and ShoDeen could reach an agreement allowing ShoDeen the rights to build thousands of new residences, including hundreds of apartments and multifamily dwellings, in ShoDeen’s proposed Elburn Station development.

That development proposal, however, has remained controversial in the village.

In October, the Village Board voted to indefinitely postpone further action on the agreement with ShoDeen, effectively putting ShoDeen and, by extension, the Anderson Road project, on hold.

Schoedel said ShoDeen, which owns most of the land needed for the Anderson Road project, has shown little interest in selling the land for the road to the county without the development agreement with Elburn in place.

As a result, he said the county, which hoped to begin work on Anderson Road next year, was forced to put a stop to most work related to the project.

Last month, the Illinois Commerce Commission, acting on a request from KDOT, postponed action on an earlier request from the county for a permit to build the bridge over the Union Pacific tracks.

Schoedel said KDOT had considered withdrawing that request, but opted to postpone the action “indefinitely,” until such time as the county can buy the required land from ShoDeen.

And Schoedel said county officials remain concerned that a lack of progress on acquiring the land could place in jeopardy the federal and state dollars earmarked for Anderson Road.

He noted in the most recent federal roadway funding bills, some earmarks were rescinded because projects appeared to have stalled for too long.

Schoedel said the state money also was given with the expectation that it would be used by 2015.

KDOT had indicated earlier this year that it hoped to complete that bridge construction by the end of 2014, with work beginning either this year or early in 2013.

“We don’t think that if we wait a few more weeks or months that the money will be taken back,” Schoedel said. “But we just can’t rely on a belief that it’s going to be there forever.”

“We can’t just leave this lie and hope everything’s going to be fine.”

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