Tree removal part of advance work for 2-year road project in southern Lake County

Trees felled as part of Arlington Heights Road reconstruction will be replaced elsewhere

The meat of a $26.4 million project to rebuild a section of Arlington Heights Road in southern Lake County won't begin until spring, but the prep work has been hard to miss.

Over several days in December, about 70 trees were removed from medians, first from about Route 83 to Checker Road, and then from Checker to Lake-Cook Road.

  Dozens of trees have been removed from medians on Arlington Heights Road north from Lake-Cook Road to Route 83 in advance of a two-year, $26.4 million road reconstruction project. The median will be removed and an updated storm sewer system installed beneath a new median to be filled with native plants and grasses. Joe Lewnard/

“I noticed it right away,” said Linda Baker, an Arlington Heights resident who said she often travels that stretch of Arlington Heights Road and estimated that more than 40 trees have been removed. “You can't miss it.”

Baker said she was aware of a pending two-year construction project but wondered why the trees had to go, given they looked good and are expensive to remove. The short answer is, they are in the way.

  Stumps remain in the median of Arlington Heights Road north of Lake-Cook Road in southern Lake County. The trees were removed in advance of a two-year road reconstruction project that calls for an upgraded storm sewer system beneath a new median. Joe Lewnard/

Lake County officials in November appropriated funding from various sources to remove and replace about 1.9 miles of Arlington Heights Road from Lake-Cook to 500 feet north of Route 83 in Buffalo Grove, Long Grove and unincorporated Lake County.

The road was built in 1980, and the concrete pavement needs to be replaced, transportation officials say.

About 26,000 vehicles a day use the five-lane road. It won't be widened but the concrete will be completely removed and replaced with asphalt for a smoother and quieter ride, according to the Lake County Division of Transportation.

Work over the next two construction seasons will include filling sidewalk gaps and drainage improvements.

  Cars travel on either side of a stumped-filled median on Arlington Heights Road north of Lake-Cook Road. The median will be removed as part of road reconstruction between Lake-Cook Road and Route 83 in southern Lake County. Joe Lewnard/

“Expect to see crews out this winter conducting necessary work such as utility relocation and tree clearing in preparation for the construction season,” according to the project website. There is a little more to it.

“The median on Arlington Heights Road must be completely removed in order to reconstruct the roadway pavement and storm sewer system, while simultaneously keeping the road open to traffic during two years of construction,” explained Alex Carr, spokesman for the Lake County Division of Transportation.

Modernizing the storm sewer system to accommodate increased rainfall across the region is a major component of the project. The storm sewer will be located directly beneath the median so existing trees and stumps need to be removed, Carr added.

“Planting new trees in the median would be problematic, as the roots would eventually grow into the storm sewer system,” according to Carr.

Native plants and grasses planted in the median when the project is complete “will look nice aesthetically while keeping maintenance costs low,” he added.

Lake County Board Member Marah Altenberg, who represents the area, said every tree removed will be replaced with a new tree.

“I understand the constituents are upset that tree removal was necessary, but in this case, to take proper care of our local infrastructure it was a necessity,” Altenberg said.

She added, the environment is a source of pride and an important consideration in any county project, and “I hope residents will understand that no tree would ever be dug up unnecessarily.”

Carr said 64 new trees from a nursery will be planted in the nearby Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve.

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