Work on Route 59, I-88 interchange to begin soon

Folks are used to construction and traffic snarls during the summer months, but those using the Route 59 corridor on the border of Naperville and Aurora have been dealing with issues for months.

Some may feel little visible progress has been made to complete the mammoth $125 million project that will widen the north-south road and make improvements at its interchange with Interstate 88.

City of Naperville officials say don’t despair: all is moving forward according to plan.

“We’re still on target to complete the project by Thanksgiving of 2015,” said City Manager Doug Krieger. “Virtually all of the utility relocating is done, and we’re getting ready now to begin widening the roadway to three lanes as well as beginning work on the interchange at I-88 and Route 59.”

While many have only seen traffic congestion and barricades set up to close lanes, project manager for the City of Naperville Jen Louden said “a lot of work has been completed that many may not be aware of.”

“The status of things is that this is a state contract and many people have been working diligently for over a year now,” Louden said. “At this point, we have prepared one side of the road along Route 59 for pavement widening, and people will see actual pavement being poured there soon. Generally, there will be more visible signs of things being completed along the 3½-mile stretch of Route 59, as well as there being barricades and traffic staging as work on the I-88 exchange begins.”

Krieger said the construction where Route 59 and I-88 meet would include a “diverging diamond interchange,” which will be one of the few currently used in the United States.

“The closest one of these diamonds is located in Springfield, Missouri,” he said. “The traffic lanes switch as you approach them so instead of driving on the right side, you veer to the left where the roads crisscross, and then return to the right side.”

According to an IDOT report summarizing the project, the new interchange will allow more vehicles to go through the interchange safely and at a faster pace.

The project, the IDOT report says, “will include construction of two new dual bridge structures over I-88 in addition to reconstruction and rehabilitation of the interchange ramps.”

Traffic signals will be added at the location and large signs will be used to direct motorists into the appropriate lane.

Louden confirmed that the majority of the utility work is done.

“This was some of the preliminary work that was necessary before the other portions could advance,” Louden said. “People should also notice a lot of the retaining walls have been put in as well as railings.”

Less visible portions of what Louden called the “first stage of the project” include the completion of a pump station located south of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks near the viaduct on Route 59. The station, she said, will be used to clear out water from under the viaduct.

Preparations for widening Route 59 to three lanes at major cross streets including Diehl Road, Aurora Avenue and North Aurora Road are also complete.

Traffic congestion, Louden said, has continued at about the same level as that seen before the summer despite more people traveling through Illinois during the vacation season.

“I think we did a good job giving notice about these changes months ago, and people have either found a different route or are traveling at another time during the day,” she said. “We work closely with the IDOT staff, and when we get complaints, we have the contractor look at traffic signals and make sure they are appropriate. Overall, the changes since the summer months began are not that drastic.”

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