Just how scarily imposing is local road construction and related snarled traffic?
Toni Lumm-Sebastian of Woodstock summed up the frustration of many Fox Valley drivers when she described the situation in West Dundee.
“The merge to the left lane on Route 72 by Route 31 really stinks,” she said. “And to top that off, they have all of the side streets (marked with) signs that say ‘No Thru Traffic’. Really? So it’s better to have a backup on 72, instead of keeping the traffic moving?”
Fellow motorist Alice Moring of Elgin battles a similar predicament in neighboring East Dundee
“Every day I drive Elgin Lane/Duncan Avenue North from Elgin, past Hagaer Potteries (in East Dundee) through the never-ending paving,” Moring said. “I always wonder if I’ll be allowed to pass through or be rerouted. The horror story part is that when I got to work today, I found a hook hand dangling from my door handle.”
Robert Costello of West Dundee said, “I was driving back home on I-90 at about 3-4 mph when I drove through an underpass and saw a construction worker putting the last brick in a wall, behind which was a commuter who had violated the law by using a cell phone in a construction area.”
Okay. Moring and Costello made up the spooky parts. But the above stories do point to three of the bigger construction efforts happening in the Fox Valley and other areas of the north and west suburbs, where there are myriad projects still underway.
Of course, biggest of them all is work along I-90, where the Illinois Tollway Authority is in the midst of a 12-year, $15 billion undertaking.
According to the ITA website, seven crossroad bridges over I-90 from near the Wisconsin border to the Elgin area currently are closed for demolition and reconstruction through the end of 2013.
Also expected to be done late this year is putting in an all-electronic interchange at Route 47 and I-90 in Huntley.
A $2.2 billion rebuilding and widening project on 1-90 now has crews rebuilding eastbound lanes between Rockford and Elgin and should be finished by the end of 2013. Work on westbound lanes will commence in 2014 and the part of I-90 from Chicago to Elgin is scheduled for 2014-2016.
A Sept. 25 ITA online update noted “eastbound traffic between Randall Road and the Elgin Toll Plaza currently is reduced from three lanes to two lanes through October. Traffic entering eastbound I-90 from Randall Road must yield and merge with mainline traffic during this construction phase.”
At the Elgin border with Sleepy Hollow, North McLean Boulevard/Sleepy Hollow Road at I-90 is now closed through Oct. 25, weather permitting, in work tied to the Tollway project.
The Tollway completed work will have three lanes in each direction between Elgin and Rockford, with the inside lane and shoulder in both directions widened to provide accommodations for “future transit opportunities,” which could mean road space set aside for buses or vehicles carrying more than one person.
If that weren’t enough roadwork, video gaming machines being installed in bars, restaurants and truck stops across Illinois since late 2012 means money for the state’s $31 billion capital improvement plans is finally trickling in, helping projects move ahead.
Elgin City Engineer Joe Evers noted that federal stimulus package money that goes to shovel-ready projects also has something to do with the volume of work underway — the most intense amount he can recall during his 25 years in the area.
Either, way there’s plenty of evidence of such funding still being spent in the area.
Meanwhile, drivers in and around Naperville and Aurora are encountering construction on the outskirts and right through the middle of town.
One of the biggest projects still going on through the fall until halted for winter is the resurfacing of Route 59, which at points is the border between Naperville and Aurora.
As of last week, contractors were still working on the pre-stages of construction, which includes installing temporary signals, removing medians and building temporary pavement, according to Allison Albrecht, communications specialist in the city manager’s office.
Another big project, right in the center of Naperville, is repairs on Washington Street from School Street, in front of Washington Middle School, to Osler Road, on the south side of the Edward Hospital campus. That takes drivers right through the heart of downtown Naperville.
Recently contractors removed and replaced curb in sections of both the east and west side of Washington.
The contractor also continued to grind concrete near Osler Drive. Crews are removing lanes of traffic as needed to perform the repairs and portions of sidewalks are being closed along the project length.
The project includes resurfacing and re-striping of Washington, as well as improvements to deteriorated curbs and sidewalks for the benefit of pedestrians. City officials said the work is expected to be complete in mid-October.
Kane and Kendall
The biggest projects on the south end of the county, the four-lane widening of Orchard Road between Montgomery Road and the Route 30, finished earlier this year.
Work continues on Fabyan Parkway, from Route 25 to Nagle Boulevard, which includes resurfacing, curb replacement and sidewalks. Work also is due to start yet this fall on resurfacing the Fabyan Parkway bridge over the Fox River.
Kendall County this year, as in the next several years to come, has construction underway on all the major state highways that cut through the county. All will continue into the fall.
The largest project is the widening to four lanes of Route 47 through Yorkville. The 2 ½-year project so far has focused mostly on the section between the Fox River downtown and Route 126 on the south side.
For most of the summer, the state highway has been down to one lane in each direction, with much of the roadway torn up. The contractor for the Illinois Department of Transportation project is about to start on the next phase of the project.
According to information released by IDOT last week, the contractor “expects to begin the next phase of the project in the coming weeks, from the (Fox River) to Washington Street, with that work including construction of new concrete pavement in the northbound lanes.”
Julie Messina, community liaison for IDOT, District 3, said that as work progresses, motorists will see closures at the different side street intersections affected by the work. Those side streets include Hydraulic, Van Emmon, Fox and Washington.
The contractor will install temporary pavement in some of the areas of the project to accommodate traffic on the west side of Route 47. Curb and gutter, sidewalks and other incidental work will not be done until the concrete pavement.
Messina said that, weather permitting, all that work, from the river to Washington Street, would be done before winter.