SUGAR GROVE – Fred Morelli joked that he has the same house as well as the same wife today as he had when he moved to Sugar Grove in 1972.
Speaking during a public hearing Dec. 14 at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Morelli’s humorous opening abruptly turned dour when he provided his opinion regarding the interchange of Route 47 and Interstate 88 and proposed changes to improve system linkage and to accommodate land use and economic development.
“We moved out here because it was quiet and it was dark at night and I don’t see that continuing,” he said. “It’s gotten louder, it’s gotten more light, and I just wonder if anything anyone says here is going to make any bit of difference or if the government is just going to steal more from us all, which seems to be the program. I’m not a happy camper.”
Morelli was one of nine people who voiced their disapproval or concerns about the project. Others submitted handwritten comments, which were not read during the public hearing.
The purpose of the hearing was to obtain input on the purpose and need of the project, alternatives, the preferred alternative, anticipated environmental impacts, including Hannaford Woods/Nickels Farms Forest Preserve and efforts to avoid, minimize and mitigate or enhance resources, project benefits and potential mitigation measures.
Michael Anderson drives a semi-truck for a living, lives in the area and is concerned.
“There’s a lot of potential problems, one of them being that you’re going from two lanes to four lanes and increased speeds by the traffic,” he said. “I just see a lot of potential accidents. Maybe there should be some consideration to widening 47 further up to the north and maybe even consider a traffic signal at Green Road so it’s a safe interchange for everybody.”
Bill Suhayda, a Sugar Grove resident, has a few concerns about what this change will bring to the area.
“Two concerns, well actually more than two,” Suhayda said. “Noise abatement, quality of life and resale value of my house.”
Suhayda said he anticipates that the noise will get louder with the increase in lanes and added volume of traffic. He also believes it’ll be downright dangerous around his property.
“I’ve been told that that the trees I have against Route 47 protecting the house would have to come off,” he said. “I have no buffer zone in terms of safety in the yard and I have two granddaughters who play in the yard so I would be severely impacted by anything coming off that highway.”
Elburn resident Dan Ryan fears that getting home safely will become a lot more difficult.
“My concern is there will be no left turn going north into Willow Creek,” he said. “You’re setting up a situation for some nasty accidents, because already when you’re trying to make a left turn into Willow Creek trucks especially will pass you on the right and go off on the shoulder. Trying to get onto Willow Creek is a monster. I had to pull up on the shoulder myself or take the chance of being rundown by a tractor-trailer.”
Diane Spehar, who lives right off of Route 47 in Elburn, can’t understand why a project of this magnitude is being done to accommodate truck traffic and expects it to make it more dangerous to drive.
“My main concern is the speed and adding lanes and semi-trucks,” she said. “By the time those trucks are at the top of the hill going south on 47 they’re now doing 55, changing gears and going full speed, and now you’re telling me if I want to make a right turn at Old Midlothian Road or Nottingham Drive or Oak Leaf Drive I’ve got a semi going 55 miles per hour right behind me.”
Some of the other concerns that were voiced included school buses not having enough lanes to turn, to consider better traffic control rather than relying too much on stop signs and the potential for Merrill Road becoming a shortcut.
“People will find out there’s a shortcut,” Sugar Grove resident Jody Leonard said. “They will and it will be a very busy road so I hope that Sugar Grove or IDOT will take into consideration the stress the roads will see because of traffic.”
A project study group will continue to accept comments similar to the aforementioned through Jan. 19. At that time, the group will assess them and determine if any final refinement is necessary.