Mobility is a much larger issue than most of us ever realize.
We tend to think about it when sitting in traffic, but in reality, it affects many of our daily decisions. The personal mobility of my wife, Karri, has deteriorated significantly over the years, and it has affected what she can and cannot do. Two years ago when visiting our son at the U. S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, she did not make the hike up to Eagle’s Peak with the rest of the family. (Lesson to all husbands out there: While the view from the peak is phenomenal, the right thing to do is stay down at the bottom with your wife).
After years of therapy and trying everything available to move around pain-free, Karri made the tough decision to have both hips replaced this past winter. What an unbelievable difference this has made in our lives. I never realized how much we were not doing.
I can only hope to gain a similar appreciation and outlook two-and-a-half years from now when the Route 59 Expansion Project is completed.
There are 50,000 cars a day that drive on the three-mile stretch of Route 59 from Ferry Road to Aurora Avenue, and I bet there are many more cars that do not travel the corridor due to the lack of mobility that exists today. We have experienced traffic congestion and delays on this road for decades, and we have been working fervently with the Illinois Department of Transportation to implement improvements for the last 10 years.
The construction we have so long desired is finally scheduled to begin Monday.
Similar to hip replacement surgery, the Route 59 project will present a lot of pain, and we will need to perform some therapy to get through the rough patches. With such an important project on the horizon, the city of Naperville worked proactively to prepare for the impacts that would be associated with the construction.
The city does not encourage people to cut through residential neighborhoods near road construction sites, but we know it happens with any construction project, and we wanted to be prepared. We recorded baseline counts on the number of cars that use the adjacent neighborhood streets by Route 59, so we can compare that data to see if neighborhoods are being affected by cut-through traffic.
We have also verified and improved the traffic control devices in those neighborhoods for the safety and benefit of all who live in and use the neighborhoods. Driver feedback signs, which tell you how fast you are moving, will also be placed at various locations along anticipated cut-through routes intermittently during the project.
While the city does not condone cutting through the residential neighborhoods, the city does encourage the public to allow additional time for their travels along or across Route 59 for the next two years. The designers did the best job they could to keep as many lanes open as possible, but it is a construction zone and there will inevitably be lane closures, so please budget more time when traveling in that area.
We have hosted several meetings on this project the last few years, and we will be hosting more as the project moves forward. We are communicating with various businesses, homeowners and other organizations to inform the public about the project’s associated impacts. We will live by the same motto Karri did as she progressed through her physical therapy: No pain, no gain.
While you may lament the time you are “losing” today, remember all of the additional time you will save two years from now when the construction is completed.
I hope to see Karri smile at the top of Eagle’s Peak this fall, and I look forward to seeing drivers smile as they swiftly travel along Route 59 in two years.
For more information on the Route 59 Expansion Project, visit www.naperville.il.us/route59expansion.aspx.
Bill Novack is the TED (Transportation, Engineering & Development) director for the city of Naperville.