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construction season

Watch your Wallet; Quinn’s Here

Our corrupt and wasteful governor has been impeached and replaced with the “Light-Guv,” Pat Quinn, the shamelessly populist “do-gooder” who ran alongside our crooked governor twice.  So now we have a plausibly clean, yet wasteful Governor Quinn.

Rod Blagojevich was steadfast in refusing to raise taxes while trying to initiate all kinds of feel-good (but ultimately unhelpful) social programs. Put that alongside chief Republican crook George Ryan, and you have a state in distress. 

So Pat Quinn has come in on a white horse and was kind enough to stop quoting Lincoln to propose some tax hikes. A 50% hike in the personal income tax. A sizable hike in the corporate rate. A slew of fee increases. 

In general, if you work in Illinois, you should hope your company can stay in business long enough to relocate to the Sun Belt. And you should follow them.  Or you should get a government job and go down with the ship, because wait until you find out the state employees’ pension system is broke.

Anyway, in the real world, organizations that are short on money will make some cuts and hold off capital projects. Too bad Illinois is not in the real world. To start, us sucker taxpayers are on the hook for the 2016 Olympics.

But now comes some more from the Mighty Quinn:

The governor then started talking about his $26 billion statewide construction program. It would be paid for by increasing fees on vehicle titles, driver’s licenses and license plate stickers. He’s calling it his “Illinois Jobs Now” program.

“There’s much to be done and little time to do it,” he said. 

Ah, never waste a crisis, eh?

Rating the alternates

 

The good ol days...

We are not quite halfway through the Fall session of IDOT’s Edens Expressway project. I won’t speculate on whether or not this project was necessary (remember, in this state, necessity is subjective), but I have obviously had to experiment with alternate routes on my way home from Loyola two nights a week, plus any other time I have to drive home from Chicago. The verdict? There is no good alternate. To wit:

Alternate No. 1: Take Kennedy beyond the junction to Central Ave. Central to Milwaukee Ave., to Waukegan Road in Niles. Waukegan Rd. home.

Result: I took this route on the Sunday afternoon after the project started on my way home from a wedding in Fort Wayne. It took only another four minutes to get to Central from the junction, but after that, a backup on the left-hand turn lane at Milwaukee Ave. caused me to opt for Elston a couple of blocks north. Elston ends at Milwaukee Ave. just south of Devon. All told, it took about 30 minutes to get home from Central and the Expressway.

Alternate No. 2: Take Kennedy past the junction to Harlem Ave. Take Harlem north into Glenview, where it becomes Lehigh.

Result: The idea of this route was to bypass the stoplights on Milwaukee (or Elston), and to avoid the construction on Caldwell and Waukegan Rd. The problem was that you drive through residential areas with more stop signs, lower speed limits, etc. Also, the intersection of Glenview Rd. and Lehigh was a little rough because of an arriving Metra train. Timing’s everything.

Alternate No. 3: Take Lake Shore Drive to Hollywood, to Ridge and then to Peterson, which becomes Caldwell, which spills onto Waukegan Rd.

Result: Lake Shore Drive to Peterson isn’t an awful idea, but you’ll hit more than 20 stoplights between Hollywood and the Peterson entrance ramp of the Edens. After that, I have 20-plus more lights before I get home. If the stoplights are aligned, great. If not, not great.

Alternate No. 4: Lake Shore Drive to Sheridan, to Isabella, to Green Bay Road, to Wilmette Rd., to Illinois Rd., to Hibbard Rd., to Winnetka Rd., to Sunset Ridge Rd., to Willow Rd.

Result: This is probably the most direct route in terms of mileage, and it really is a great route to take to or from the lake while bicycling, but let’s count the problems with this route:

  1. Stoplights and left-turns on Sheridan all the way up to the Evanston line are exasperating.
  2. Navigating the curves of Sheridan Rd. through Evanston is scenic, but not quick.
  3. The pedestrian and bicycle traffic around Northwestern will slow you down.
  4. Too many residential streets.

Despite all that, it was only a 45-minute drive home.

Alternate No. 5: Kennedy beyond the Junction to the Tri-State, north to Willow Rd., and back east.

Result: Of course, this is a good way to view some more construction. As luck would have it, there was nighttime construction on the Kennedy that night anyway (so what was I bypassing?), and then I forgot all about the construction on the Tri-State to convert to Touhy Toll Plaza into an “open road” toll plaza. That slowed me down, as did the construction at the Willow Rd. overpass. This route takes me about five or six miles out of my way, as well.

Alternate No. 6: Suck it up and take the Edens.

Result: So far, I’ve lived a charmed life doing this. The inbound construction is pretty much done when I get on at Caldwell, and the outbound construction seems minimal — at least at 9:30 p.m. The sad fact is that no route gets me home more quickly or more efficiently — not even mass transit.