September 3, 2018
In Transit: App for Route 53 Extension Feedback Takes Flak
By Marni Pyke
If the Founding Fathers had used Poll Everywhere at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia — would the final result be a better Constitution?
It might have depended on how fast they could type.
Illinois tollway consultants are using Poll Everywhere, a web-based audience participation system, at meetings with a group of local officials and others advising the agency on whether to extend Route 53 into Lake County.
The question has roiled Lake County for years, dividing residents over weighty problems like right of way, traffic, pollution and cost.
At a meeting Thursday, those divisions extended to use of the smartphone app to conduct the meeting, with some opponents of the new highway saying the technology is silencing their voices.
“I am extremely frustrated with how the tollway has engaged the stakeholders overall,” said Mayor Joseph Mancino of Hawthorn Woods, which could be bisected by a Route 53 extension. “Not only is the application unstable at best, it severely limits our input and quite frankly is a bit insulting to the stakeholders who are forced to use it.”
The tollway “wants to be able to parse through and say, ‘this is what people said,’ but that’s not what you do at a meeting where you want to have stakeholder participation,” stakeholder and Environmental Law and Policy Center chief Howard Learner said.