The intersection where McLean Boulevard crosses Route 20 is getting a major makeover, but drivers won't see the new look for about three years.
Elgin City Council members gave preliminary approval to allocating $260,260 to the project -- separate from current work on Route 20 -- and are only responsible for a tiny portion of the $45 million total price tag. State and federal money will provide the rest as Route 20 is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Transportation.
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When completed, the intersection will have more attractive retaining walls, more modern traffic signals, new sidewalks and new lighting.
City Engineer Joe Evers said the last time this project came up -- in 2007 -- Elgin was asked to contribute $800,000, making the reduced cost an especially good deal.
The goal of the improvements is to reduce congestion at the interchange. As it is now, vehicles fill the exit ramp onto McLean Boulevard and have been involved in accidents with through traffic on Route 20.
Evers said there is a downside to the project because of a concrete median that will be put in place from Lillian Street to Fleetwood Drive, preventing drivers from turning left anywhere along that stretch. Elgin will also lose a couple of businesses IDOT purchased property from for the project. Evers said Wednesday he did not know exactly which business were affected.
In a memo to council members Evers said benefits of the proposed changes outweigh the negatives.
"For a relatively small financial payment, the city will be receiving a better system to move traffic to and from South Elgin, ECC and Elgin's Industrial area south of Route 20," Evers said.
The congestion near the McLean Boulevard interchange is attributed to the growth of South Elgin, Elgin and Elgin Community College.
Evers said work is expected to start this summer, following the current construction on Route 20. While the financials are in Elgin's favor, Evers was wary of what the three-year project will mean for the city.
"This is going to be a very, very tough project," Evers said. "Motorists will get tired of it."
Council members will need to give formal approval of the expenditure at their next meeting.