For the first time ever in Kendall County, a locally elected public official is attempting to use social media to help persuade the Illinois Department of Transportation to improve a local highway.
As we reported last week, Yorkville Alderman Joel Frieders took to Facebook (Facebook.com/JoelFrieders) Jan. 17 to urge area residents to spread the word in support of having IDOT fund the expansion of Route 47 between Yorkville and Sugar Grove. Frieders wrote: “Share and comment on this post with your own personal horror stories of traveling Route 47 currently...” He also suggested that residents share their posts with area lawmakers and the governor.
Frieders colleagues on the city council and Yorkville Mayor Gary Golinski, meanwhile, have taken a more conventional approach in their IDOT lobbying effort. With Golinski’s full support, the council adopted a letter to be sent to IDOT that states the city “wishes to voice its fullest support for the intersection improvements at Illinois State Route 47 and Galena Road as well as the expansion of the Northern Illinois Route 47 corridor.”
We applaud the council for adopting and sending their letter to IDOT and we like the energy and the approach Frieders has brought to the effort. We’re especially pleased that Frieders has called public attention to the many and often serious accidents that occur along the highway. As noted by Frieders in his Facebook post, the intersection of Route 47 and Galena Road alone has been the site of nearly 150 wrecks over the past 7 years, including 17 that resulted in injuries and one in which a motorist was killed.
Since neighboring Sugar Grove also has a vested interest in seeing Route 47 improved, we believe Yorkville officials should now approach their counterparts on the Sugar Grove Village Board and ask them to adopt a similar letter calling for the Route 47 improvements. The lobbying effort for Route 47 improvements can only be bolstered by having the governing board of two neighboring municipalities both take public stands in support of the upgrades.
Until Route 47 is rebuilt starting with the Galena Road intersection, the daily traffic jams will remain a hindrance to Yorkville economic development efforts and a time-wasting annoyance to the thousands of commuters who sit in the lengthening back-ups every weekday morning and evening. But more importantly, Route 47 will remain a dire public safety hazard as the number of accidents on its two lanes continues to climb.
Sadly, due to a lack of state and federal funding, it will likely be several years before IDOT completes any significant improvements on Route 47. But with local officials waging a concerted and continuing lobbying effort, we’re hopeful that IDOT will move the project up its multi-year highway program and the wait for improvements that now appears it will take five to 10 years or more can be cut short to three to five years.