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updated: 7/6/2012 2:42 PM

Libertyville seeks delay in Milwaukee Avenue project

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  • A Ricci/Welch construction crew works on a water main along Route 137 and Milwaukee Avenue in April, in advance of a road widening project that hasn't gotten under way.

      A Ricci/Welch construction crew works on a water main along Route 137 and Milwaukee Avenue in April, in advance of a road widening project that hasn't gotten under way.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II / gboucher@dailyherald

  • Relocating utilities, like this water main work in April, are needed before the widening of Milwaukee Avenue north of Route 137 in Libertyville can proceed. Village officials have asked that work at the intersection with Route 137 be delayed until next year.

      Relocating utilities, like this water main work in April, are needed before the widening of Milwaukee Avenue north of Route 137 in Libertyville can proceed. Village officials have asked that work at the intersection with Route 137 be delayed until next year.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II / gboucher@dailyherald

 
 

What was to have been a disruptive $23 million project to widen Milwaukee Avenue at and north of Route 137 in Libertyville has not been as bad as advertised, mainly because little of the actual roadwork has been done.

And that worries village officials, who have asked the Illinois Department of Transportation to focus on adding lanes to the north while deferring work on the intersection until the 2013 construction season.

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"We're asking that they hold off until next year to start it," Mayor Terry Weppler said. "It'll be a mess for residents over the winter."

The village also wants to minimize the potential disruption for area businesses. An official letter will be sent to IDOT brass with copies to local state legislators.

How much weight that carries is to be seen. IDOT says it will re-evaluate the schedule when utility relocations are complete, but at this point it expects the intersection to be in construction stage through the winter.

"Not a lot has changed," said IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell, "but we will continue working with the village on this."

A lag in relocating utilities has stalled construction on the roadway portions, which includes widening the last significant two-lane section of Milwaukee nearly two miles north to near Route 120 and the intersection at Route 137.

The village is intent on having the intersection complete in a single construction season, rather than having it unfinished with lanes closed during the winter.

Most of the work drivers have seen in the heavily traveled area are utility crews moving lines. North Shore Gas has been the most active as it installs new gas mains along Milwaukee Avenue and Route 137.

ComEd has completed as much as it can at this point and has been off the project for several weeks, according to the village.

That leaves AT&T, which has the majority of its work to complete.

The company has indicated it would finish its work by late July or early August, according to the village, which is concerned that will be too late to avoid winter lane reductions. "IDOT has to wait for the final schedule to make a decision," said Fred Chung, Libertyville's senior project engineer.

The project began last fall with a separate $2.3 million contract to remove hundreds of trees and build a temporary road on the east side of Milwaukee north of Route 137 in anticipation of the main construction.

Widening that stretch to solve ongoing congestion issues has been a goal of Lake County leaders for years. Since it has not been on the state's project list, county officials opted to pay the cost to do the project, although IDOT is managing the work.

The extensive project also involves an underpass near Casey Road, replacing the bridge over Bull Creek, construction of four retention ponds, and sidewalks along both roads. The improvements will allow the Lake County Forest Preserve District to connect the Des Plaines River Trail to a Libertyville Township trail west of Milwaukee Avenue.

Except for a few bridges, the district's trail work is nearly complete and well ahead of schedule, according to Mike Fenelon, the district's director of planning, conservation and development.

"This was an exceedingly excellent construction period," he said of dry weather that minimized delays. Still to come is the tunnel, which is part of the main construction.

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