Lake in the Hills village officials are intent on fighting a McHenry County Division of Transportation proposal for a continuous flow intersection at Randall and Algonquin roads, Village President Paul Mulcahy said last week.
The continuous flow intersection, or CFI, is part of MCDOT's plan to improve the 3½-mile stretch of Randall Road from Ackman Road to County Line Road ending at the Algonquin Commons shopping center. It would be the first one in Illinois, according to the county.
While McHenry County has jurisdiction over Randall Road, the segment being improved falls within three villages: Algonquin (Algonquin Commons north to Algonquin Road), Lake in the Hills (Algonquin Road north to Ackman, west of Randall) and Crystal Lake (Miller Road north to Ackman, east of Randall).
The project calls for widening the entire stretch to three lanes in each direction, building dual left-turn lanes and right-turn-only lanes at major signaled intersections. The entire Randall Road improvement project is estimated to cost roughly $115 million, including construction, land acquisition and engineering, per the county's five-year highway improvement plan.
The county board's transportation committee recently greenlighted a $9.1 million contract with Transystems and Bollinger Lach and Associates to conduct the second phase of engineering for the Randall Road project, which includes designs for construction. The full county board will vote on the contract Feb. 4.
Mulcahy voiced objections at last Wednesday's committee meeting, saying the county was relying on inaccurate data based on inflated population projections.
Lake in the Hills village officials have been pouring over hundreds of documents from MCDOT and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, trying to figure out the reasons the county is pushing for such an intersection.
According to CMAP's predictions, the village's population is expected to reach roughly 48,000 by 2030. That's an increase of roughly 20,000 people.
"There isn't land within the corporate limits of Lake in the Hills to do that," Mulcahy said. "It just doesn't exist. That is not in our comprehensive plan. We have no desire to build that many new homes and consequently grow our population like that."
Mulcahy said the village's staff called six other area municipalities, and all but Algonquin said their CMAP population projections were way overstated with a roughly 40 percent difference.
"The county is working with flawed numbers," he said. "Consequently, if the population is not going to grow like that, the traffic is not going to follow."
According to MCDOT's own traffic counts, daily vehicular traffic on Randall Road has been gradually declining.
Southbound traffic on Randall Road heading into the Algonquin Road intersection has gone down from 45,890 in 2007 to 38,650 in 2013, while northbound traffic has gone from 41,180 in 2007 to 34,972 in 2013.
CMAP predicts there will be 66,000 vehicles a day traveling through the Randall Road corridor by 2030.
"When we take the population estimates of what the communities themselves expect, traffic is expected to be closer to 48,000 cars," Mulcahy said. "What in the world are we going through improvements of such magnitude and such expense for on Randall Road?"
The CFI alone is expected to cost roughly $13 million for construction. The county has secured $10.5 million in grant funding through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality improvement program administered through CMAP.
Mulcahy believes the county should consider a simpler, less expensive option.
Algonquin Village President John Schmitt said he has no problems with the CFI proposed for the Randall/Algonquin intersection and believes towns should work with the county on the project.
"This area needs the Randall Road improvements to support our residents and to support our businesses," he said. "I, personally, really don't care what kind of intersection they put, as long as it works. With resources as difficult to get as they are, you have to have a project that is going to be built and solve the problem for the longest period of time possible."
Schmitt said his village engineers worked with the county to address concerns raised by business owners along the corridor with the CFI proposal.
"That is incumbent on any municipality to do, to work with the state or county engineers to make the project work," he said.
County Administrator Peter Austin said the $10 million CMAP congestion and air quality grant was contingent upon the CFI being built. He added that he's not sure if the funding will be withdrawn, if the county chooses another option.
"Right now, the CFI had been identified in phase one as the preferred alternative," he said. "We are still designing. Phase two finalizes the plan and more sharply draws it."
Meanwhile, the county will be seeking additional federal funding for the project, Austin said.
The county's transportation committee this week also approved spending an additional $6.75 million for negotiating the purchase of a right-of-way and buying land required for the project.
That could result in curb cuts being eliminated and affect entrances, exits and parking lots of businesses, said Fred Mullard, Lake in the Hills public works director.
"If we close enough access points, it becomes inconvenient to go there and (customers) will find somewhere else to do their business," he said. "There are enough challenges to businesses in today's economic environment. They don't need additional challenges, if there is some way to work around those."