The town of Merrillville has officially thrown its support behind the proposed Illiana Expressway. At this week's town council meeting, the vote was five-to-one, with one councilman absent, in favor of regional planners including the project in the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan, an important step to get federal dollars. Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's board is scheduled to take that vote December 12th. The 47-mile highway would link Interstate 65 in south Lake County near Lowell to I-55 in Illinois. Published reports say Councilman Richard Hardaway, who cast the vote against, said his objection comes not against the project itself, but in light of the opposition from residents of south Lake County who would be affected by the highway, noting that Lowell State Representative Rick Niemeyer and Lake County Councilman Eldon Strong of Crown Point are against it. Niemeyer and Strong made a joint announcement earlier this month urging NIRPC to vote it down saying money would be better spent on existing projects in the Region.