Lake County, Illinois is already experiencing a traffic congestion problem. By the year 2020, when its population is projected to increase by at least 250,000, traffic congestion will likely be significantly worse. This report is the second installment in a study called "Crossroads: Smart Transportation Options for Lake County", which is commissioned by the Environmental Law and Policy Center and Citizens Organized for Sound Transportation. The study is carried out by Resource Systems Group, Inc. and the University of Illinois at Chicago. It uses advanced transportation modeling to examine the impact of various possible transportation improvements on traffic congestion levels in Lake County.
The first installment of Crossroads, released in 1997, demonstrated that the State could relieve traffic congestion levels in the year 2020 14% more by simply carrying out the existing plan to upgrade local roads in Lake County than by building the proposed new $1.2 billion Route 53 tollroad. In other words, building a 25-mile, six-lane extension to Route 53 would increase traffic congestion by 14%.
In this second installment, we now examine the impact of proposed transit improvements on Lake County traffic congestion levels. We tested a package of transit improvements that are, again, included in the State's official transportation plan. They include installing a second track on the Wisconsin North Central commuter rail line, building a portion of the Elgin Joliet and Eastern circumferential commuter rail line, and increasing bus service.