Plans for the Illiana Expressway have been on the table for years, and environmental groups want them to become permanent place mats. Openlands, Sierra Club and the Midewin Heritage Association filed a lawsuit to make sure crews never use the current designs to break ground on the 46-mile highway.
Naming the U.S. DOT and the Federal Highway Administration in the complaint, the trio says the Illiana Expressway would destroy 1,500 acres of farmland, 64 acres of forest and 34 acres of wetlands. The suit also claims the road project would degrade water quality, negatively impact the southern border of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and endanger plant life and animal habitat. Openlands, Sierra Club and the MHA believe both the Illinois DOT and Indiana DOT failed to prove a true need for the route in the environmental impact study recently concluded.
“It failed to establish the need for the roadway,” Jerry Adelmann, president and CEO of Openlands, told the Chicago Tribune. “It is too far south from population centers and it will basically pollute and destroy wetlands, farms and other open space.”