Major traffic delays are expected for three days beginning Monday for a road project that has stressed drivers in the Libertyville area for more than a year, but the work is considered a big step toward its completion.
Weather permitting, several concrete trucks will deliver loads on those days to provide the final surface for several segments of the $23 million Route 21/137 widening and intersection improvement.
The project is estimated to be about 65 percent complete, and next week's paving scheduled is considered a key component. It involves rebuilding and widening about 2.2 miles of Route 21 (Milwaukee Avenue) from near the Merit Club golf course in Gurnee to Finstad Drive in Libertyville, as well as the four legs of the intersection.
"I think it's a huge step, personally," said John Heinz, Libertyville public works director. "This will be a big week as far as significant things," involving the project.
On Monday, the northbound lanes of Route 21 will be paved from Brookhill Road to just north of Route 137. On Tuesday, those lanes will be paved from the southern project limit near Finstad Drive to just south of Route 137. And on Wednesday, the westbound lanes of Route 137 will be paved for the entire length of the project. The paver is expected to cross the intersection about 11 a.m.
In related work, the Route 21 underpass to connect a Libertyville Township trail on the west with a newly built trail at the Independence Grove Forest Preserve on the east is expected to be complete and open in early to mid-October, according to John Nelson, project engineer for the forest district. The dog park on the east side of Route 21 will be closed through November, he added.
Meanwhile the village continues to try and assist businesses in the area that have been hard hit because of the construction by relaxing signage rules and reminding the public to patronize them. A business list and construction updates are available at www.il21and137.com and www.libertyville.com/IDOT project.
Heather Rowe, the village's economic development coordinator, said the project continues to have a "significant negative impact" on businesses but many are preparing to come back "with a vengeance" when it ends.
"I think people will see a definite improvement in the project in coming weeks," she said.
The scheduled date for substantial completion of the road portion of the project is Jan. 10, 2014, with landscaping and associated work to be finished next spring. The Illinois Department of Transportation hopes to finish by Christmas.