With most road projects there will be pain before gain, and the pending widening of the west end of Washington Street in central Lake County will be no exception.
Tentatively scheduled to begin the week of July 8, the work to rebuild the road and add a third lane, water main, curbs and gutters, and other improvements eventually will require the entire milelong stretch between Hainesville Road and Cedar Lake Road to be closed. Through traffic will be detoured for three months beginning in mid-August.
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"The corridor is very tight in terms of space, and what we're planning to construct will very much fill up that right of way," said Al Giertych, assistant county engineer.
The $8.5 million project also includes on-road bike lanes on both sides of Washington Street, as well as a bike path on the south side between Grandview Drive and Hainesville Road; sidewalks on each side of Washington Street; a turn lane and new signals at Cedar Lake Road; and reconstruction of Dorothy Lane, which runs northwest from Cedar Lake Road.
"It's narrow, there are no sidewalks, there is no space for bikes -- it's definitely long overdue," Round Lake Park Mayor Linda Lucassen said.
Lucassen said village officials were overwhelmed with the turnout of about 125 residents for an open house about the project hosted last week by the Lake County Division of Transportation.
"We wanted residents to learn more about the project and what it will involve," Giertych said. The project has its own website, www.washingtonstreetinfo.com, which will be updated as the work progresses.
Aside from considering alternatives for kids who walk or bike on Washington to get to school, and the need to provide information in Spanish, residents who attended the open house appeared pleased with the project, according to Lucassen.
"They didn't seem to be angry at all," she said.
The completion of the project will bring the county a step closer to finishing a strategy to reduce travel times on the important corridor that began more than 20 years ago and ultimately will cost about $90 million.
Since 1992, segments of the more than 11-mile stretch of Washington Street in the county's jurisdiction between Cedar Lake Road in Round Lake and Green Bay Road in Waukegan have been widened. Giertych said much of that work has been federally funded, including about $6 million -- or roughly 70 percent -- of the Cedar Lake-to-Hainesville segment.
Once the Hainesville Road-to-Cedar Lake Road portion of Washington Street is complete, the only two-lane section remaining will be immediately east between Hainesville Road and Lake Street.
That also is on the list to be remedied with construction bids scheduled to open in September 2014.
The road will be widened to five lanes, but as planned it will be done in separate projects: Lake Street to Haryan Way, which will include a tunnel beneath the Canadian National railroad tracks, and Haryan to Hainesville Road.
The Hainesville-to-Cedar Lake Road work may be a hot spot, but in the scheme of things it is a small part of the big picture.
Lake County this year plans to spend an estimated $126 million on 32 projects, by far its largest road construction season.