It's likely to be a hurry-up-and-wait kind of commute for the next two years on a 3.5-mile segment of Route 59 in Naperville and Aurora, but officials say they're glad the long-awaited expansion project finally is under way.
Crews hired by the Illinois Department of Transportation are starting the nearly $90 million project Monday and will be working until an estimated completion date in late summer or fall 2015 to expand the road to three lanes in each direction between Ferry Road and Aurora Avenue/New York Street.
Municipal and business leaders, like Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mike Evans, say they are pleased the project is getting started despite the traffic delays it will cause.
The project will improve traffic signal coordination and create extra left-turn lanes at Diehl Road, North Aurora Road, Jefferson Avenue/Liberty Street and Aurora Avenue/New York Street. One of the first "diverging diamond" interchanges in the state will be built where Route 59 meets I-88 to eliminate most left turns across opposing traffic and keep cars flowing more steadily.
Evans said the Naperville chamber is among groups that have been pushing for years -- since 2002 -- for enough state funding to complete the Route 59 project, which will improve north-south travel in the area. He said it's important that shoppers continue patronizing Route 59 businesses and he is asking IDOT to provide "more descriptive" signs listing specific shops accessible during construction instead of just saying "driveway open."
"Signage is extremely critical during this process," Evans said. "If we don't do business on Route 59 for two years, the long-term influence is going to be significant."
Those not looking to shop on Route 59 but heading to work or another destination are encouraged to allow extra time or seek alternates routes.
Naperville Project Manager Jennifer Louden said the city suggests drivers use arterial roadways such as Eola Road to the west, Raymond Drive to the east and Ferry Road to the north as opposed to residential streets.
Those who usually travel to the Route 59 Metra station can take a Pace park-and-ride service to the Naperville station instead. The bus leaves from St. Thomas the Apostle Church at 1500 Brookdale Road.
Louden said whenever possible, workers will keep two lanes open in each direction, but lane closures are expected to last months once they begin.