Section of Route 59 to be closed all weekend for culvert work

<p>Road construction crewman work on a roadway.  |  AP Photo/Seth Perlman</p>
Road construction crewman work on a roadway | AP Photo/Seth Perlma

There could be a long weekend in store June 13-16 for drivers whose routes normally take them through Naperville’s northwest end via Route 59.

Officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation notified city staff Tuesday morning that the section of the state highway between North Aurora Road and Glacier Park Avenue will have to be closed to all traffic for several days while work is being done on a culvert that runs beneath the road just south of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway underpass.

Bill Novack, director of the Transportation, Engineering and Development Business Group, said the development came “completely out of the blue” during a routine construction coordination meeting.

The closure, part of the state agency’s massive overhaul of a three-mile stretch of the roadway, initially was to take place this weekend, but IDOT moved the project back a week on Wednesday morning. Although IDOT has not yet finalized its schedule for the project, it now is tentatively scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. June 13 and wrap up by 6 a.m. June 16, in time for the start of commuters’ new work week.

The repair was planned as part of the two-year, $118 million upgrade, but its timing was moved up after state workers came upon an unexpected mechanical problem.

“They discovered that the connections between the existing culvert that would have been replaced in stage two and the new one that they’re putting in with stage one would not hydraulically function and be able to carry the creek flow through there during high-flow times,” Novack told the City Council Tuesday night. “So the determination was made that the entire culvert needs to be replaced, which basically means installing it under the live lanes of traffic that we are traveling on today.

“We did some pushback, figured out that it really does need to be done.”

Novack said the timing isn’t ideal, but would have been worse if IDOT’s intention of closing down the road piece “in a day or two” had come to fruition. Staff managed to persuade IDOT to put off the work until the heaviest of the week’s commuter traffic has come and gone, and the state agency then delayed the project a week.

“It was an unforeseen thing. We do not like it at all,” Novack said. “But the only good thing I can say on this is it’s not like a utility that we could not find before that completely throws the schedule back three, four or five months. With this one we will have a tremendous amount of pain (that) weekend, but after that we’ll be right back on the schedule that we were, actually a hair ahead of schedule, because that culvert will be done this year instead of next year.”

Staff members are doing all they can to ease the pain for businesses in the affected piece of highway, he said.

Council member Bob Fieseler said the impact will likely extend well beyond the designated detour, which will have drivers skirt the area via Aurora Avenue, Ogden Avenue and North Aurora Road. Many, he predicted, will look for ways to get around the backups that will develop on that route.

“I think we have to prepared for a lot of traffic on Quincy, on Ambassador, on Fort Hill, because Ogden backs up as it is between (the car) dealerships, and there’s going to be all sorts of diversions through that neighborhood,” Fieseler said. “Maybe that’s something that the police should be alert for.”

More information about the project can be found at www.naperville.il.us/route59expansion.aspx.

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