Getting through Grayslake on Route 120 can be tough at times, and the going may be a little tougher beginning today with the expected start of a project aimed at making travel smoother.
Weather permitting, the Illinois Department of Transportation will begin a $1.66 million project to connect and synchronize traffic signals and make other upgrades between Route 134 in Hainesville to Route 45 in Grayslake.
Daytime lane closures on Route 120 and on Route 45 south to Winchester Road in Libertyville are expected. Traffic will be reduced to one lane with flaggers when necessary, according to IDOT.
The work in the Route 120 corridor also includes a right-turn lane from westbound Route 120 to Hainesville Road. The project had been delayed by utility conflicts but is back on track.
Signal work will be coordinated through Lake County PASSAGE, a real-time traffic management system based in Libertyville.
The improvements are expected to improve traffic flow along Route 120, which carries as many as 26,900 vehicles per day. Because there are only two through lanes, backups are common during rush hours.
Hainesville Mayor Gerry Daley joked that a Dunkin' Donuts planned at Route 120 near Hainesville Road is in the perfect location because drivers could stop there for coffee and not lose their place in the traffic line.
While any improvement is welcome, several communities along the route have been meeting informally to discuss bigger projects to provide traffic relief.
"Whether (the Route 53 extension) ever happens, we need to address 120 now," Daley said.
According to state Sen. Melinda Bush, discussions for much-needed improvements to Route 120 are ongoing. Bush, a Democrat, lives in Grayslake, and her district includes the corridor.
She said the Belvidere Road Corridor Capacity Plan, created by municipalities from Lakemoor to Grayslake along the Route 120 corridor, will be the subject of a meeting in October at IDOT offices.
That plan outlines 14 improvements, mainly adding turn lanes at intersections, for a total estimated cost of $45.5 million.
The single-largest project is $16 million to rebuild and widen the intersection at routes 120 and 83, where a railroad crossing creates frustrating backups.
"Route 120 has been a source of gridlock for far too long. It's time to get moving on these common-sense improvements," Bush said.
Communities have met informally, but there hasn't been much new to report since this past spring, said Kevin Timony, assistant Grayslake village manager.
"It's kind of a slow-moving process," he said.
Identifying and getting projects ready to build if or when money becomes available is a key, according to Bush.