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Statement from the Will County Executive on Resolution #24-27
Mike Theodore

Statement from the Will County Executive on Resolution #24-27

Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant today vetoed Will County Board Resolution #24-27, concerning the expansion of 143rd Street between State Street/Lemont Road and Bell Road.  

Incorrect reports have been made publicly that the County Executive signed and delivered this resolution with the intent to make it effective. While the resolution was signed in error, the County Executive did not authorize delivery to the Clerk’s Office as it was never the County Executive's intention to return a signed resolution to the County Board. Instead, the County Executive exercised her veto powers authorized under the law, which is consistent with her public comments on media outlets following the County Board meeting.

After consulting with legal counsel, the County Executive immediately contacted County Board leadership via email to make them aware of the error. In addition, the County Executive spoke to the County Board Chair and leadership to explain the situation and that a formal veto was forthcoming. County Board leadership acknowledged the error.

Veto Message from the County Executive to the Will County Board:

Today I veto Resolution #24-27, which fails to address traffic demands and public safety.

First, the expansion of this segment of 143rd Street has been a subject of discussion for over a decade. For many years, the Will County Board has recognized the need to address increased levels of traffic and the threats to public safety that exist on the current roadway.

The Will County Board has repeatedly provided a clear direction to the Will County Division of Transportation to pursue expansion in this segment of 143rd Street. The full County Board has unanimously approved this project to proceed 10 separate times since 2009. Time and time again, the elected representatives that serve on the County Board, including those that represent the communities along 143rd Street, have voted for this project.

Following the unanimous direction of our elected legislative body, Will County has held a consistent position since 2009: That the existing two-lane road is a danger to the public, impedes the flow of traffic, and prevents the safe passage of residents throughout the county.

Second, based on the County Board’s direction, Will County has already expended over $6.2 Million on this project. The Will County Division of Transportation has expended time and resources on identifying a level of expansion that both creates a safer roadway and aligns with feedback received from the public and local elected officials during the project development. Although several members of the board expressed a belief that the County should “cut our losses” on this project following years of consistent direction, I do not believe that individual board members changing their mind should come with a $6.2 million dollar price tag for the taxpayers.

Third, further, the votes made during the February 15 County Board meeting do not provide clear direction to County staff on how to proceed with this project. While Resolution #24-27 is misleadingly labeled as a directive to “cease” the expansion, the resolution is also calling for the Division of Transportation to proceed with a three-lane expansion.

The County Board later voted unanimously to include language within its legislative agenda that advocates for the use of quick-take proceedings for this project. This follows the statements made by several board members that no property should be acquired for this project. It is not clear to what extent the County Board is in favor of continued acquirement of right-of-way property along this specific corridor, as these two resolutions are contradictory.

Fourth, compared to the years of research, public feedback, and legislative deliberation of the full 143rd Street expansion project, Resolution #24-27 does not provide a solution to the safety and traffic challenges that currently exist.

Decision-making in public service is never easy. In this case, I believe the necessary decision is to ensure the safety of Will County residents.

Therefore, pursuant to 55 ILCS 5/2-5010, I hereby return Resolution #24-27, with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.

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