Dozens of new and ongoing road projects will keep motorists alert this construction season as Lake County authorities continue to keep the pedal to the metal in terms of workload.
More than $109 million in road improvements will be under construction during the 2014 season, with five big projects entering a second year and several others spread throughout the spring and summer.
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And before the year is out, the county expects to get bids on another $61 million in extensive projects that are expected to tie up traffic in the central part of the county to start 2015.
The current roster of 36 projects follows last year's record $126 million program, which was more than double that of an average season.
"We have a strong commitment to improve our regional transportation system," county board Chairman Aaron Lawlor said.
Lawlor said Lake County is the only county to use the entire quarter-percent regional sales tax increase, approved a few years ago, expressly for transportation-related projects. A road improvement can take four years to reach the construction stage, he said.
"We're seeing the fruits of that decision," he said of the current and pending lineup of work.
The 2014 program includes what will be the county's fifth roundabout at River Road and Roberts Road in Lake Barrington. It is also heavy on road resurfacing, with 10 projects estimated at about $14 million planned.
"It's been a successful strategy for us in the right location," Assistant County Engineer Al Giertych said of the $6.2 million roundabout. Because of poor soil, that project may not be complete this year.
Also included is a $1.6 million test involving "smart" traffic signals along Aptakisic Road, from Brandwyn Lane to Parkway Drive in Buffalo Grove, and on Gilmer Road, from Midlothian Road to Fremont Center Road in Hawthorn Woods. Giertych said the signals can make adjustments to varying traffic conditions on the fly.
"These are the first ones that are being installed in the region," he said.
But the bulk of the cost of the road program involves widenings and reconstruction. Those include the five carry-overs: Fairfield Road at Route 176; Wadsworth Road from Route 131 to Cambridge Drive; Washington Street from Cedar Lake Road to west of Hainesville Road; Delany Road from Sunset Avenue to Yorkhouse Road; and Rollins Road at Route 83 and the CN railroad.
At $10.8 million, the most expensive project to begin this year is widening Peterson Road from just west of Route 45 to west of Route 83, in what is considered an economic development corridor in central Lake County.
"That's a significant project. That will be tightly staged -- the contractor will have to hustle," Giertych said.
The next section from Route 83 to west of Alleghany Road is planned for next year.
Separate websites will be created for the Peterson Road and roundabout projects. Four of the five carry-over projects also have websites, which has become a popular method of informing the public.
"We're able to provide a way for interested parties to sign up for email alerts," Giertych said. The Rollins Road project, for example, has 1,079 on the alert list.
For those who don't need that level of detail, construction updates will be available on the websites.