Expressway to corn field

August 13, 2013 

You'd think the Illinois Department of Transportation recently hired Rube Goldberg for their engineering department. For our younger readers, he was the cartoonist who would design elaborate machines out of boxing gloves, candles and pulleys to perform a simple task such as turning off a lamp. He was the likely inspiration for the Mousetrap game or one of those car ads you watched on YouTube -- but we're getting much more detailed than necessary, kind of like our friends at IDOT.

Too much detail and too little common sense gave us our own very expensive and very worthless road to nowhere near the intersection of Illinois 15 and Green Mount Road.

IDOT "improved" the highway between Belleville and Freeburg, but part of that process involved reworking the Green Mount intersection where Eckert's Country Store and Weil Lombardo Trailers 'n More resided. Instead of designing for the needs of the businesses and customers and safety, IDOT basically reworked the same four-lanes meets a two-lane intersection into an elaborate scheme that did the following:

* Decided their rules dictated a "frontage road" that left no room for the trailer business, thus forcing it to move from Belleville to Lebanon. In the process they spent $878,000 for the land plus $20,000 in moving expenses, minus the $255,000 recouped when they sold the unpaved portion of the trailer lot for $359,600 less than taxpayers paid for it.

* Spent an additional $137,085 to build the tiny "frontage road" to Illinois 15 that ends at a corn field.

* Took away an entrance to Eckert's, harming their traffic flow and costing them money to rework their parking and streets.

As Chris Eckert said, "It seems a little nonsensical to me. It seems a little silly." Eckert held out hope that "maybe in 10 or 15 years it might make sense."

We wish we shared his optimism.

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