FRANKFORT, Ill. (CBS) — Imagine building your dream home with the money you save for years, only to have your backyard end up on the cusp of becoming a highway.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Thursday night, that is exactly what is poised to happen to some homeowners from south suburban Frankfort – who say Will County has no plans to build a buffer.
For kids in the Frankfort subdivision, their backyard is their playground – their safe place.
But their parents say plans to expand Laraway Road, right behind their homes, will put that safe place in peril.
“Even the safety of our kids – we’re concerned about cars coming through the backyard,” said Jennifer Bandes, a homeowner and parent.
Bandes said Will County’s current plans to widen Laraway Road from two to four lanes would swallow 16 feet of their land – eliminating a berm and a row of 15-year-old trees currently serving as a safety and sound barrier.
Her husband said it gets worse.
“That’s where the shoulder’s going to be, and road’s going to end up going right about here,” said Brian Bandes as he stood at his backyard fence and walked out a short distance.
The shoulder of the expanded Laraway Road will only be about six feet from the family’s backyard fence.
“I think that’s horrific to think that my children are going to play on a 40 to 50 mile-an-hour highway with no sound abatement, pollution abatement, or protection against incoming semi-trucks or vehicles, distracted drivers, or drunk drivers,” Brian Bandes said.
The Bandes family said Will County transportation officials have told them they will get fair compensation for their land, but nothing else.
Jennifer Bandes: “There’s no plan because there’s no money for that right now.”
Kozlov: “So the plan is to take that land and just leave it barren?”
Jennifer Bandes: “Leave it barren.”
Kozlov asked another neighbor, Erin Olson, if she feels the county has been dismissive about the situation.
“Completely blasé about it,” she replied.
Olson said she had no idea widening plans were in the works when they bought their home. The Bandeses said their builder told them the Laraway widening would not happen for at least 15 years when they moved into their house 18 months ago.
If the berm-and-tree buffer goes, the homeowners said their property values will go with it.
“Horribly stressful,” said Brian Bandes. “Yes, lots of sleepless nights.”
We repeatedly asked Will County for somebody to come on camera for an interview about this project, but no one was available. However, through a statement, a spokesperson said when Phase Two of the Larwaay Road project gets under way, they will reevaluate additional needs at that time.