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posted: 1/11/2014 8:00 AM

Traffic relief at Libertyville intersection depends on weather

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  • Road crews remove snow from the construction zone along Route 137, west of Route 21, in Libertyville Friday morning.

       Road crews remove snow from the construction zone along Route 137, west of Route 21, in Libertyville Friday morning.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Snow is loaded for removal along Route 137 in Libertyville Friday morning. Road crews began clearing the snow so temporary pavement markings can be replaced and the new lanes opened.

       Snow is loaded for removal along Route 137 in Libertyville Friday morning. Road crews began clearing the snow so temporary pavement markings can be replaced and the new lanes opened.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 

The new pavement and medians at routes 21 and 137 in Libertyville are complete, but opening all lanes of the busy intersection remains a vexing moving target.

Crews were out in force Friday removing snow from those areas to allow for the replacement of temporary pavement markings and the eventual opening of the new lanes.

But exactly when that will happen is an unknown that has become another wild card for motorists, businesses and village officials who are weathering a second construction season of the $23 million project.

"It's anybody's guess when that might happen," said John Heinz, Libertyville public works director.

Anticipating a window of a few days of dry weather, the intent is to have at least the completed Route 137 open by midweek. But village officials aren't sending out the good-news emails just yet.

"We're not sure that window will allow them to finish all the pavement markings because they're dealing with the cold weather and wet pavement," said Fred Chung, senior project engineer for the village.

Illinois Department of Transportation officials in late November said they hoped to open all lanes of the intersection by Christmas, and crews at times worked nights and double shifts. While the road improvements were completed, the holiday came and went without any present for motorists. The target was moved to the week of Jan. 6, but weather intervened.

Weather is the main factor that controls the placement of new pavement markings, according to IDOT, which is managing the project for Lake County. Markings require temperatures of at least 30 degrees and dry pavement, the agency said.

Crews were set to remove the old markings on Saturday, Heinz said.

Besides widening Route 21 to the north and south of Route 137, the project calls for widening the intersection to five lanes, with dual left-turn lanes, a right-turn lane and two through lanes.

The length of the project has hurt businesses that line both roads and frustrated Mayor Terry Weppler and others.

Weppler contends the project has been poorly managed and the intersection should already be open.

"If our government was run like a business, it wouldn't be that way," he said of the continued delays.

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