Three lanes of traffic in both directions and one of the first "diverging diamond" interchanges in the state are coming to a 3.5-mile stretch of Route 59 in Naperville beginning this fall.
The state has awarded contracts totaling more than $50.2 million to reconstruct and widen the roadway between Ferry and North Aurora roads in a project expected to be complete by late summer or fall 2015, the governor's office announced Thursday.
Another contract worth about $30 million for reconstruction of Route 59 between North Aurora Road and Aurora Avenue/New York Street is expected to be approved soon. And $6 million worth of work on a new pumping station to keep water out of the railroad underpass just south of North Aurora road brings the project's total cost to nearly $90 million.
"The final product is going to make a huge impact on our north/south movement," Naperville spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said.
Route 59 handles more than 50,000 vehicles each day with "heavy congestion" for 14 hours, according to traffic studies. Naperville officials say a wider Route 59 has been on their wish list since 2002, when the city put $225,000 in grant funding toward preliminary designs for an upgraded road.
"I'm so glad to see it finally getting into the driver's seat and really going to town," Mayor George Pradel said about the project, which will be administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation. "It's going to be a long process, but I think it's going to be really well-run."
One section of the plan calls for reconstructing Route 59 between Diehl and Ferry roads as well as replacing the bridge over I-88 and the interchange with the tollway. Herlihy Mid-Continent Company of Romeoville will install a "diverging diamond" interchange at a cost of nearly $25.9 million.
The design essentially reroutes drivers to the opposite side of the road to eliminate most left turns across opposing traffic and keep cars flowing more steadily.
It will take some getting used to, said Bill Novack, Naperville's director of transportation, engineering and development, but diverging diamond interchanges have proved successful in Missouri, Utah and Marion in southern Illinois. Another is in the works at the intersection of Route 83 and I-90 in the Northwest suburbs.
"People won't really notice the difference until the end of the project," said John Fortman, an IDOT engineer for District 1 in Cook and DuPage counties, although work to create the diverging diamond is set to begin soon.
Another section of the Route 59 project includes reconstruction of the road from North Aurora to Diehl roads, along with plans to modernize and re-time traffic signals, widen the road to three lanes in each direction, add more turn lanes at key intersections and install noise abatement and retaining walls.
These upgrades are expected to cost about $24.4 million and be completed by Martam Construction, Inc., of Elgin.
Two left-turn lanes, a right-urn lane and three through lanes in each direction will be available on each of four legs at Diehl Road, North Aurora Road and Aurora Avenue/New York Street when construction wraps up in 2015, Naperville project manager Jennifer Louden said.
Route 59 commuters are advised to allow extra time or plan to use another north-south thoroughfare as construction will decrease available traffic lanes. Residents living adjacent the construction zone should expect additional traffic as drivers look for alternate routes.
IDOT will work to preserve access to businesses along Route 59 whenever possible and will post signs at driveway entrances. The city is working to schedule a meeting with business people along the corridor so they can learn about the project that will affect their employees and customers the next two years.
"I know they're looking out for the merchants," Pradel said, "so people can still access the businesses and shop without being hindered."