Route 45 expansion in Vernon Hills as far along as it's ever been
When or if Route 45 through Vernon Hills is widened, the impact on the Stone Fence Farm and Centennial Crossing subdivisions will be less than originally planned.
Whether residents who have concerns today still live there by the time the work is done is open to debate, although there finally are some firm target dates for the project that village officials have sought for 20 years.
"I'll probably be long retired before that road ever gets bid out," joked Village Manager Mike Allison. "We really need to keep plugging away at it."
The improvement proposed by the Illinois Department of Transportation calls for widening more than 4 miles of Route 45 from Route 60 in Mundelein, southeast through Indian Creek and Vernon Hills, ending at Route 22 in Lincolnshire.
The work, now estimated at $61 million, involves two travel lanes in each direction with separate turn lanes at various intersections.
Consultants recently informed the village board of suggested changes, based on comments received a year ago at an open house and at a public meeting before the board last June.
The main points are that a barrier median for a portion of the project has been eliminated, and the actual road narrowed and alignment shifted as far south as possible, which would put it farther away from the subdivisions, according to Public Works Director David Brown.
Also, a proposed bike path would be shifted from the north side of Route 45 to the south. Those and other measures mean that 173 trees that had been expected to be cut down for the project would be saved, Brown added.
IDOT was "able to save substantially more trees than the previous plan," Brown said.
Nearly 250 trees still would need to be removed for the project, down from the original 420.
Brown said the village will send IDOT a letter outlining any outstanding issues and another open house will be scheduled, likely late this year.
Brown said he expects preliminary engineering, which sets the parameters as the first step in any road project, to be complete by early next year.
That would mark the farthest point the project has reached since village officials in 1988 made a formal request to IDOT to study the matter.
The next step would be to proceed with the preparation of contract plans and land acquisition, which can take another 18 months.
IDOT has included about $8.9 million for that work and $3.5 million for land acquisition in its 2011-2016 improvement program, which is updated each year. Funds for the actual construction are not included, however.
Vernon Hills officials had hoped the project would be in the running for "challenge" funding from Lake County, but the initial work won't be done in time to be eligible for that source.
Federal stimulus funds were directed to "shovel ready" projects, village leaders were told. And while some projects advanced more quickly than they would have, the state's focus was on paving and bridge rehab rather than widening.
"Without miracles, it won't happen until 2016," Brown said.
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