When the first roundabout was proposed in Lake County, the response was extreme.
"People were so skeptical, I would seriously get phone calls from people saying there would be deaths at that corner and it would be on my conscience," recalled Lake County Board Member Ann Maine, of Lincolnshire, who is also president of the Lake County Forest Preserve District.
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More than two years after the roundabout opened at Everett Road and Riverwoods Road as an alternative to a traditional intersection, Maine said she hasn't been stuck in a backup at the intersection and gets occasional notes from people who say they love the change.
Whether that method of traffic control will be the way to go at Gilmer and Midlothian roads in Hawthorn Woods is to be determined, with village officials withholding judgment until residents and businesses weigh in.
They'll get that opportunity from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at an open house hosted by the Lake County Division of Transportation at the Hawthorn Woods Aquatic Center, 94 Midlothian Road. Experts will be available to answer questions and public comment will be taken. Visit www.improvegilmermidlothian.com.
The intersection, which sees an average of 15,000 vehicles each day, has businesses on three corners and is controlled by a traffic signal. The alternatives are to install a roundabout, where traffic slows but would not stop, or widen the intersection.
"Depending on what plan is chosen, the impacts on each of the businesses vary," said Pam Newton, the village's chief operating officer. She said village officials have been studying the issue but want to hear from residents and businesses before deciding on a preference. Three of the four corners are in the village and the southwest corner is unincorporated.
As proposed, the Midlothian/Gilmer roundabout would be the first multilane configuration in Lake County.
"Roundabouts are becoming quite popular but this one is different," Newton said.
Three roundabouts operate in Lake County -- Riverwoods and Everett, and on Hunt Club Road at Millburn and at Wadsworth roads. A fourth is scheduled to be built this year on Cedar Lake Road at Monaville Road. All are single lane, according to Chuck Gleason, project manager for LCDOT.
"There are multilane roundabouts all over the place, just not in Illinois," Gleason said. "Nobody around here is familiar with them. It's new, so they're reluctant to go with the flow."
The meeting in Hawthorn Woods is the first step in a multiyear process. Bids for the Midlothian/Gilmer improvement are scheduled to be let in January 2016.
Gleason said construction costs for each alternate are about the same but roundabouts are less expensive to maintain.