FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — Ruby Lane residents said Wednesday a recent judge's order has galvanized their fight against the placement of an Interstate 64 ramp in their neighborhood.
"I don't believe this is the best use of taxpayers' money ... and the residents don't want it," said Ron Gompers, a spokesman for residents who oppose the new interchange project. The group has a petition with more than 1,300 signatures.
Gompers said the city should build an interchange that would effectively revive the west end and where fewer residents would be displaced. Gompers lives on Edding Lane, which is adjacent to North Ruby Lane.
Gompers and about 25 residents, including some aldermen, met privately on Wednesday morning at Flo and Dale Keeling's home at 213 N. Ruby Lane. Signs on their front yard publicize their opposition to the project.
The couple has lived on North Ruby Lane for more than 48 years and their property overlooks the highway.
Ward 2 Alderman Speed Allen, Ward 3 Alderman Scott Greenwald and Ward 4 Alderwoman Linda Arnold gathered with residents. The proposed ramp is in Ward 4.
They said the half-interchange would not relieve traffic as planned, the city could not afford the ramp and the project would destroy a close-knit, crime-free neighborhood.
Engineering will cost up to $3 million in city funds and construction would cost up to $40 million in state and federal funds.
Earlier this year, these aldermen and Ward 4 Alderwoman Carol Warner, co-sponsored a resolution to prevent the placement of an I-64 exit at Ruby Lane.
A vote has been delayed because it was unclear whether it was a conflict of interest for Arnold to vote on the project since the project could affect her home on Ruby Lane.
Last week, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida ruled that no conflict of interest existed in law to prevent Arnold from voting.
Gompers said a decision that kept Arnold from voting would have "squashed our voice." The judge's order has given residents "renewed hope," he added.
Arnold said Wedneday she will resubmit her resolution to stop the project. The next City Council meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at email@example.com or 239-2655.