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Route 59 project area | Sun-Times Media graphic
Traffic approaches the Burlington Northern Santa Fe overpass above Rt 59 near the Metra station. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Traffic on Rt 59 near North Aurora Road on Monday, December 9, 2013. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Traffic on Rt 59 near North Aurora Road on Monday, December 9, 2013. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Traffic on Rt 59, just north of Aurora Avenue and New York Street on Monday, December 9, 2013. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Unused traffic sawhorses stand along Rt. 59 near Aurora Avenue and New York Street. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Traffic on Rt 59 near Jefferson Avenue and Liberty Street on Monday, December 9, 2013. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

Road construction crews involved in the overhaul of Route 59 on Naperville’s northwestern edge appear to be taking their cue from postal carriers. In keeping with the U.S. Postal Service motto, “neither snow nor rain nor heat” has kept workers from their portion of the project.

Although activity will remain slightly reduced during the winter months, there is no real letup expected for those working on the $85 million Illinois Department of Transportation undertaking.

“They are planning to continue through the winter, basically as weather allows,” said Jennifer Louden, the city’s project manager. “So to that end, the lane configuration changes that you just saw were basically preparation to allow them to do the work pretty much from the middle of the project.”

Earlier this month, drivers began using lanes along the west edge of the state road between Interstate 88 and Bruce Lane/Brookdale Road. The north-south traffic was moved to the east side of the highway between Brookdale and North Aurora Road.

There will be additional temporary lane shifts implemented periodically as needed, Louden said, but congestion should not worsen over the coming months.

“We’re expecting to keep it for the most part two lanes in each direction,” she said.

Also planned are reconfigurations of lanes on Diehl Road and North Aurora, generally keeping two lanes open each way, Louden said, although travel might be reduced occasionally to a single lane in each direction.

Traversed by more than 50,000 vehicles every day, Route 59 has been a source of motorist aggravation for years, and the upgrades are eagerly anticipated. According to the city website, the highway corridor remains clogged with traffic for at least 14 of every 24 hours and sees some 400 accidents every year.

The project, which is expected to continue until fall 2015, includes widening and rebuilding Route 59 from Ferry Road to Aurora Avenue/New York Street; upgrading major intersections within the 3-mile corridor, including Diehl, North Aurora and Aurora/New York; and the creation of an unusual configuration expected to improve traffic flow around the intersection of Route 59 and I-88.

Managed with traffic lights, the “diverging diamond” design channels drivers onto the opposite side of the roadway for the portion where drivers exit onto adjacent thoroughfares, merging them back onto the right side of the street past the access point.

Among the other enhancements to be brought by the project are new turning lanes and a lengthening of the ones already in place; realignment of a section of the road between Paxton Drive and Diehl; better stoplight coordination that will ease traffic flow; restricted or eliminated access from many of the smaller side streets and driveways; and improved features for pedestrians and bicyclists, including sidewalks and possibly a bike path.

Increased construction activities and associated long-term lane closures are expected to begin again in late winter or early spring.

Dearborn Court, an existing right-in/right-out access located on the east side of Route 59 north of Gowdey Drive, has been permanently closed. The access point was initially designed as a cul-de-sac when the Kingspointe Townhomes were developed. However, because at the time of construction, Bond Street did not fully connect between Gowdey and Brookdale Road, the right-in/right-out was constructed instead to provide an interim access point primarily for emergency vehicle access.

Bond Street was fully connected when the Design Pointe shopping center was constructed.

Work has also been going on for the excavation and relocation of existing electrical pole towers along Route 59. Most of the work is being done in the right-of-way and is not expected to affect or disrupt traffic.

More information, including a video clip that shows the diverging diamond at work, can be found at www.naperville.il.us/route59expansion.aspx and www.dot.il.gov/ilrt59/index.html. Questions also can be emailed to Route59@naperville.il.us.

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