In a recent Daily Herald article, my opponent, Joe Haimann, made some comments about how we need the Longmeadow Parkway Tollbridge to ease traffic up in the Carpentersville/Dundee area in order to bring more business to Spring Hill mall. Below is a direct link and the full quote.
"The bridge at Main Street is the only bridge Carpentersville has to cross that river," Haimann said. "It's a mess. The people I talk to say we need another bridge over the Fox River. Some people talk about the Route 31 bypass. That runs north/south. We need more east/west. And in my heart, I believe that's what's really hurt the Spring Hill Mall (in West Dundee). When people have to start sitting in traffic, they don't want to go there."
Yes, congestion is an issue. Yes, many people say that we need a new bridge in the area. No, this is not the reason that Spring Hill Mall has faced great challenges in the past few years. I would like to know how Haimann arrived at this conclusion.
Conventional wisdom says that Spring HIll Mall took a huge hit when the Algonquin Commons went live. How many major stores in the area in and around the mall went off to Randall Road?
Here's another article that discusses JC Penny leaving the mall:
Notice how there was already a new Penny's open in Algonquin at the time of the closing. The article also mentions Famous Dave's BBQ Restaurant, Toys R Us, TJ Maxx and the Gap as stores that left Spring Hill for Algonquin.
It states further that Macy's, Sears, Target and Best Buy were amongst JC Penny as the largest tax generators in West Dundee. Target and Best Buy have since left West Dundee with brand new stores opened in. . .Algonquin.
But, Haimann wants us to believe in our hearts that Spring Hill has suffered because people don't want to sit in the traffic to get there. It has nothing to do with the massive retail complex along Randall Road.
Another problem I have with his theory is that there is much more traffic encountered along the way from the Carpentersville/Dundee area to the Algonquin Commons corridor. If traffic were the defining factor for commerce in this area then the stores along Randall wouldn't be doing well enough to close the stores in Dundee.
Also, if Longmeadow is going to take so much traffic from our bridges, and if Longmeadow brings you right out onto Randall Road at the beginning of the Algonquin Commons, then why would people go to Spring Hill Mall when they could just zip down Longmeadow and have access to more stores?
And what does the County data say about the traffic congestion reduction post-Longmeadow? It says that it will be minimal at best!
That's right, minimal. Less than 10% reduction on the 72 bridge in Dundee and the Main Street bridge in Carpentersville, with a 5% margin of error! Here's the link:
If you look on page 60 you'll see the beginning of the traffic projections post-Longmeadow, and you'll notice no big difference on any local roadway except for I-90. This study was done before the lane expansion on the tollway, so keep that in mind.
How is a $143M tollbridge and roadway project going to relieve traffic congestion such that it will revitalize the Spring Hill Mall area, when conventional wisdom and county data suggest otherwise? Why is our elected official, Joe Haimann, giving us information from his heart rather than from their facts?
How will Longmeadow bring economic development to Carpentersville/Dundee?
In a future post, I'll discuss some of the things I'm learning about alternative transit options that can increase economic development and possibly even reduce congestion. But for now it's enough to know that our elected official in District 24, Joe Haimann, either doesn't know all the facts about Longmeadow or he's doing what he can to make an argument for it despite whatever the facts say.
Politics as usual.