Drivers may be tired of roadwork, but Lake County already is thinking ahead with another big project expected to take two years to build.
Actually dual projects to be done simultaneously, work on adjoining segments of Washington Street in Hainesville and Grayslake will complete a decades-long program to widen a major east-west route in central Lake County.
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Plans include an underpass beneath the Wisconsin Central tracks and a sidewalk on the north side of Washington to provide pedestrians with access to the Grayslake Metra commuter station.
The projects involve widening Washington Street to five lanes from Hainesville Road to Haryan Way, and widening and building the railroad underpass from Haryan Way to Lake Street.
"We're going to have websites for both projects," said Glenn Petko, engineer of construction for Lake County.
The total costs of the improvements, including construction, right-of-way acquisition, engineering and other expenses for the 1.24-mile stretch from Hainesville Road to Lake Street, will be about $49 million.
"This is the last segment of Washington to be widened," said Al Giertych, assistant county engineer. "It's been really about a 25-year effort to get to this point. It's a very important roadway for us."
Washington Street stretches about 11 miles from Cedar Lake Road in Round Lake to Green Bay Road in Waukegan.
The Lake County Board next week is expected to approve measures to authorize the use of federal funds and appropriate $8.4 million as a local share of the segment from Haryan Way to Lake Street. The board also is being asked to approve V3 Companies of Illinois as construction manager at a cost of about $2.2 million.
Utility relocations will begin in the fall and the roadwork and underpass is expected to take two full construction seasons to complete.
That will mark four consecutive years of work in that area.
The reconstruction and widening of Washington Street from west of Hainesville Road to Cedar Lake Road is nearly complete.
Giertych said the work will be coordinated so that it will appear to drivers as a single project.
Federal and state funding will pay the bulk of the Haryan-to-Lake Street project, but the Hainesville Road-to-Haryan segment, estimated at $16 million, is a county job.
Local funding for both will come from a regional sales tax hike approved a few years ago and used by the county as part of a "challenge bond" program for large projects.
A railroad underpass on Washington is similar to the ongoing work to lower Rollins Road beneath the tracks just west of Route 83 in Round Lake Beach, which has been described as the most costly and complicated road project the county has undertaken.
With work now in its second year wrapping up, Rollins could be open to traffic as early as Sept. 5.
Giertych said there has been increased train traffic on the Wisconsin Central and the underpasses will decrease delays and improve safety.