The cynical cliché about the seasons in this part of the world — that there are two of them, winter and road construction — rings with a bit more sting than usual this year.
Winter may have gone out at last like a lamb with the end of March, but road work and other public projects are roaring to life this month, lion-style.
A number of projects will make life a little more difficult for drivers in the months to come.
Progress on the long-term upgrades along Route 59 on the border of Naperville and Aurora are continuing, with short- and long-term lane closures affecting travel times for the 50,000 vehicles that use the north-south corridor between Aurora Avenue and Ferry Road each day. Unfortunately for those drivers, things are likely to worsen before they improve.
“Although work on the project has continued through the winter months with some lane closures and corresponding impacts to traffic flow, this next phase will produce significant delays which have not been experienced so far by motorists,” said Allison Albrecht, a communications specialist in the Naperville city manager’s office, in an email.
Among the new snarls along the three-mile segment of highway will be reduction to one lane in each direction at the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railway underpass from North Aurora Road to Meridian Parkway through the end of 2014.
“Lane reductions will also be implemented at intersections along the corridor, resulting in significant delays to east-west travel along impacted local streets, including Aurora Avenue/New York Street, Jefferson Avenue/Liberty Street, North Aurora Road and Diehl Road,” Albrecht said.
As always, drivers are urged to give themselves extra time if their routes will take them through the area. The $85 million Illinois Department of Transportation undertaking, which also will bring complete reconstruction of the interchange at Interstate 88, is scheduled for completion in fall 2015.
Some other projects of note in the Naperville and Aurora area include:
In Aurora, city spokesman Dan Ferrelli said that the East New York Street project will see the thoroughfare reconstructed from Welsh Drive to Asbury Drive.
As part of a bridge reconstruction project, the Indian Trail bridges in Aurora are also scheduled to close in June. The $10.7 million project is expected to be completed in August 2015, according to Ferrelli.
In Naperville, a key element of the Water Street redevelopment project is set to begin by mid-year, the parking deck which will add 550 spaces to the downtown. Improvements along the Riverwalk, and reconstruction and renovation of Water and Webster streets, also are in the plans. Start dates have not yet been announced; once work is under way, Water Street will be closed but the remaining buildings will be accessible.
Also, drivers leaving the Van Buren parking deck still can drive only west on Van Buren Avenue between Washington and Main streets, and Main remains closed between Van Buren and Benton Avenue. The limitations are part of the $30 million office/retail Main Street Promenade East project and are expected to continue through September.
In addition, the 95th Street-Knoch Knolls signal work is slated for completion between July and October. This includes a new traffic light which is being added at the crossing, part of the much-larger $26.5 million Will County-led project that is extending 95th Street east over the DuPage River to connect with Boughton Road, due to be done by the end of the year. Some lane closures will be implemented during the day while workers are on the job.
Last week a demolition crew tore down the now-vacant strip mall at the entrance to the Elgin Mall complex, along McLean Boulevard at the west end of Lillian Street in Elgin. It was just a foretaste of some big hurt that will be put on drivers in that area as the fourth and most painful year of the giant McLean Boulevard/Route 20 reconstruction project swings into high gear.
This spring and summer contractors working for the Illinois Department of Transportation will begin tearing up McLean and Lillian so they can install extra turning lanes, a bike lane and a median strip. To make way for the new lanes, the work will eat up what used to be that strip mall, some other now-vacant business sites, plus much of the parking lots for the former JB’s Pub and Shell station at that corner.
Meanwhile, work back at the Route 20 interchange is moving into its final stages. By sometime this fall, completely new bridges will have been installed carrying Route 20 over McLean, and the intersection will have been redesigned as a “single-point urban interchange,” which state planners say will help avoid traffic backups from the Route 20 exit ramps and reduce the amount of time drivers down on McLean have to spend waiting for a red light to change.
As the $2.2 billion widening of I-90 continues all the way from Rockford to O’Hare Airport, McLean Boulevard/Sleepy Hollow Road will be closed where it passes under the tollway on Elgin’s northwest side, starting April 22. The bridge overhead is being widened to accommodate the additional tollway lanes.
The reconstruction and widening to three lanes in each direction between Elgin and Rockford should be finished this year.
Work to add a fourth lane in each direction from Elgin to I-294 is getting underway this spring and will continue through 2016.
Other bridges or underpasses that will have to be closed for widening at various times this year include Bartlett Road in Hoffman Estates, County Line Road, Harmony-Riley Road, Harmony Road in Hampshire, Hennig Road near Hampshire and Tyrrell Road in Gilberts.
A major improvement in north-south traffic flow through McHenry County will be available soon as the long-awaited Algonquin Bypass is expected to open for business in about August. The two-mile, four-lane, $33.3 million divided highway will tie into Route 31 just south of downtown Algonquin and return to Route 31 north of the village. A diamond interchange will connect it to Algonquin Road halfway through.
The work around the intersection of Routes 31 and 72 in West Dundee is in its final two months or so but is inconveniencing drivers as westbound 72 and northbound 31 are reduced to one through lane in each direction.
The $3 million state project includes widening of both 31 and 72 leading up to the intersection, median modifications to prevent dangerous turning movements close to the intersection, the addition of second left turn lanes for north- and southbound traffic, and addition of a right turn lane for westbound traffic.
Workers on the Route 47 project through downtown Yorkville have hit the ground running once the winter weather broke.
Within a week or so of starting construction again on the project to expand the state highway to four lanes, the contractor had the west side of Van Emmon Street open. The road had been closed all winter, making the usual through street like a cul-de-sac, a hardship on nearby businesses.
“We were this close to getting it open last fall,” said Herb Jung, construction engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation District 3.
He said the problem was that the snow and cold hit at all at once, meaning they had to shut down and never got a chance to get going again.
Jung said the highway downtown will definitely be finished by mid-summer, and most of the paving work will move south. He said highway crews will pave as far south as they can this year.
To the north, the contractor will have drainage crews out putting in needed water and sewer that is part of the project.
Eventually, the project is expected to be completely finished by the middle of 2015. It will include new water and sewer and four lanes with new pavement on Route 47 between Route 71 on the south and Kennedy Road on the north.
The Illinois Department of Transportation has announced that, weather permitting, bridge work on Route 30 over Route 47 in the village of Sugar Grove will begin Tuesday.
The work consists of steel beam repairs, new abutment bridge joints, bridge deck patching with a new latex concrete deck overlay and concrete repairs to the bridge slopewalls, abutments and piers.
Lane reductions and closures will be necessary to complete the work. The project has an anticipated completion date of July 15, IDOT officials said.