An open house in Lockport on Thursday evening drew over 100 residents, as Will County outlined three options for the long-planned Caton Farm-Bruce Road corridor project.
The current plan for the project includes a new highway called “the middle alignment” that would be built on farmland and undeveloped areas between 159th Street and Bruce Road, east of Interstate 355.
The county is now looking at Cedar and Gougar roads as possible alternatives due to a study commissioned by Lockport, Homer Glen and Homer Township in 2017.
Representatives from Will County and Civiltech Engineering were at Lockport Township High School’s east campus to answer questions.
“The county has no preference,” said Christina Kupkowski, a project manager with the Will County Division of Transportation. “I’m just happy to get this in front of the public.”
Also present Thursday was Lockport Alderman Darren Deskin, whose “No. 1 priority” since he got on the city council in 2013 has been to get the county to commit to using an existing road in lieu of the middle alignment.
Both Mayor Steven Streit and Deskin support the idea of having Gougar designated as part of the corridor so the city can get federal and state funding to make necessary improvements.
Widening Gougar to four lanes would be an issue for the Barnett Cemetery located on Gougar, said Greg Cagwin, a longtime board trustee for the cemetery.
"We have people buried there,"
Cagwin said. "I believe this road won't be built until I'm in that cemetery. … I'm in the front row so they'll be driving over me."
The middle alignment has been particularly thorny for Mary Ellen White and Richard Schroeder, who own property in the area. Both said an expensive new road is “redundant.”
The road would run right through the house White and her husband built 57 years ago.
Schroeder’s 70-acre farm located on 163rd Street west of Cedar Road – which has been in his family since the 1960s – also falls in the path of the middle alignment. Schroeder said he has presented his objections “at every possible meeting I could go to,” and he is “hopeful” now that the county is considering new options.
“It’s like an ax hanging over my head,” Schroeder said.