As traffic congestion on Route 59 increases for the next two years due to the Route 59 Expansion Project, we need to remember three words: She made it!
In my last column, I compared the lack of mobility along Route 59 with my wife, Karri’s, decreased mobility before her hip replacement surgery. I noted that Karri’s personal test would be if she could climb to the top of Eagle’s Peak at the United State Air Force Academy in Colorado.
On our Sunday morning visit to the Academy for parent’s weekend last month, we set off on the hike with our cadet, Ryan, and younger son, Nick. With our excitement and enthusiasm we started off at a brisk pace, which quickly caught up to us in the high altitude. A couple of us were “sucking air” pretty hard and Karri questioned my assessment of her ability to make it to the top. Between gasps for air I told her I knew she could make it, but maybe we should slow down.
Two hours and 15 minutes after she started her trek, Karri made it to the top of Eagle’s Peak, and she was able to look out over the Academy first-hand. It was a beautiful view and well worth the effort. On the way down I was talking with another husband who noted that his wife was inspired by Karri, saying “if that lady with two new hips can make it to the top, then there is no way I cannot!”
I was reminded of the similarities of this hiking trip to the Route 59 expansion project. The anxiety that Karri experienced at the start of the hike was similar to the anxiety the 50,000 drivers a day on that road felt when construction started in August.
The self-doubt that I experienced, questioning if Karri had the ability and if we had prepared sufficiently for the climb, is similar to our internal staff’s assessment as we worked to prepare for the construction and associated impacts to surrounding traffic. Had we prepared enough and thought of everything that could occur?
Even the two hours and 15 minutes it took to get to the top of Eagle’s Peak just about aligns with the two years that is anticipated it will take to complete the Route 59 construction. We will experience some pain during the road construction, just like the pain we felt while climbing to the top, but the view and enjoyment afterward will be well worth it. And I’ve come to accept that while we have prepared as best as possible for a project of this magnitude, we won’t be able to anticipate everything that may or can come up with a project of this duration.
The start of construction has gone well, with some significant lane reductions while medians were removed and temporary pavement was installed. Traffic has redistributed itself pretty much as we anticipated with no surprises.
Motorists should be cautioned that this is the tip of the iceberg and that there is a long road ahead. While there will be some things related to traffic and congestion that we won’t be able to control, the city is focusing on communication and alerting the public to key points in the project so you can make adjustments in your schedule accordingly. I highly encourage you to sign up for the Route 59 eNewsletter to get the latest news on this project.
The city of Naperville is committed to this improvement and will work to the best of our abilities with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to ensure the project is successful. Improving traffic flow and reducing congestion, which is a key benefit of the Route 59 expansion project, is actually one of the city’s three new strategic plan goals. One of our other three goals is to improve the manner in which we communicate with everyone. In my next column I will introduce you to some of our new ideas and how it can impact you in several ways, including keeping up with the latest changes along Route 59.
When traveling along and near Route 59, please allow additional time. Remember that my wife, Karri, made it to the end, and you will, too.
For more information on the project, visit www.naperville.il.us/route59expansion.aspx. To sign up for the Route 59 eNewsletter, visit www.naperville.il.us/enews.aspx.