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March 3, 2005 

Rick Powell 815-434-8435
TTY: 815-434-8510
FAX: 815-434-6998



OTTAWA, IL – A new public opinion survey conducted by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) shows that 61 percent of respondents in the primary area* of the Prairie Parkway Preliminary Engineering Study believe that growth is inevitable and roads should be built or improved before traffic problems increase. In the secondary study area*, 59 percent of respondents shared this belief.

The research also showed that 67 percent disagree that building major new roads would make traffic congestion worse. Six percent of respondents oppose new roads because of the likelihood of bringing in too many people and increasing traffic congestion.

The survey, conducted in late 2004, explored people’s driving habits, use of major area roads and public transportation, their perceptions of the severity and reasons for traffic congestion in the region, how traffic congestion affects their lifestyles, their solutions to traffic congestion and their environmental and quality of life concerns. On average, the 1,000 survey respondents have lived in the far southwestern Chicagoland area for 24 years.

“As IDOT researches viable transportation alternatives for this dynamic region, public involvement continues to be a crucial component in the Prairie Parkway study,” said Deputy Director of Highways Gregg Mounts. “In addition to looking at data such as population, employment, traffic and environmental impacts, the perceptions and experience of the people who live in the study area must be included in order to reach the best solution.”

Following are some additional findings from the new research:

  • Within the primary study area, 36 percent of the people surveyed say that U.S. 34 is the most severely congested road. I-88 is believed to be the most severely congested road in the secondary area, named by 28 percent of respondents.
  • On average, area residents reported spending 29.9 minutes driving to work. Business owners reported shorter commute times, averaging 25.2 minutes.

A majority of residents (75 percent) felt that traffic congestion will get much worse over the next ten years.

  • Residents in both the primary and secondary areas most frequently cited too much development as the biggest contributing factor to traffic congestion, ranking it 6.9 and 6.8 respectively on a 10 point scale.
  • Respondents were asked what they believe are the best solutions to traffic congestion. The top five solutions chosen were:
    • Widening existing roads: 57 percent
    • Improving existing intersections, signals or turn lanes: 34 percent
    • Better coordination and planning: 28 percent
    • Building other new connecting roads: 25 percent
    • Building new freeways or expressways: 21 percent

  • Respondents said they would most likely use the following transportation options:
    • Other new connecting roads: 49 percent in the primary area; 51 percent in the secondary area
    • New freeways or expressways: 39 percent in the primary area; 44 percent in the secondary area
    • Added/Improved rail service: 23 percent in the primary area; 44 percent in the secondary area

  • The respondents who said they believe that new road construction is one solution to traffic problems were asked whether north-south or east-west roads were most needed.
    • North-south: 40 percent in the primary area; 23 percent in the secondary area
    • East-west: 14 percent in the primary area; 21 percent in the secondary area
    • Both: 51 percent in the primary area; 45 percent in the secondary area

  • The survey respondents were asked to rate their level of concern over the effects of transportation improvements on a 10-point scale. The top five concerns were:
    • Water quality: 8.1 points in the primary area; 7.9 points in the secondary area
    • Cost to taxpayers: 8.0 points in the primary area; 7.5 points in the secondary area
    • Air quality: 7.9 points in both the primary and secondary areas
    • Loss of parkland or natural areas: 7.4 points in the primary area; 6.6 points in the secondary area
    • Loss of farmland: 7.4 in the primary area; 6.6 in the secondary area

  • The three top outcomes that commuters want new transportation improvements to achieve are:
    • Increased safety/fewer accidents: 8.0 points (on a 10 point scale)
    • Improved travel time for 20 miles or more: 7.6 points
    • Improved local travel: 6.8 points

  • Respondents rate the impact of traffic congestion on their lifestyles as generally moderate, saying it affects their access to shopping and leisure/entertainment choices most. However, daily commuters are significantly more likely to say that traffic congestion places limits on their choices of employment.

  • Cars, trucks and SUV’s are the overwhelming transportation mode used, with 97 percent of the respondents saying it was their primary mode. In contrast, two percent of survey respondents use Metra trains as their transportation.

    This telephone research was conducted in October and November 2004 with a random survey of 1,000 residents within the Prairie Parkway Preliminary Engineering study area. The study area consists of all of Kendall County, the southern portion of Kane County, the northern portion of Grundy County, the western portion of Will County, and the eastern portions of DeKalb and LaSalle Counties. Employees of IDOT, government agencies, the road construction industry, public relations firms, and advertising/marketing agencies were excluded from participating in the survey. The margin of error of the telephone survey is ±3.1 percent.

    The entire research poll can be found at the Prairie Parkway Preliminary Engineering website:

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* The primary area for the Prairie Parkway Preliminary Engineering Study includes municipalities such as Joliet, Channahon, Minooka, Montgomery, Morris, Aurora (60506 zip code), Big Rock, Oswego, Plano, Sandwich, Shorewood, Sugar Grove and Yorkville.

The secondary area consists of municipalities such as DeKalb, Elburn, St. Charles, Aurora (60504 and 60505 zip codes), Batavia, Marseilles, North Aurora, Plainfield, Somonauk and Wilmington.
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