Wood Dale recently received the Suburban Branch of the American Public Works Association's Transportation Project of the Year Award for its reconstruction of the Route 19 and Wood Dale Road intersection.

The work provided enhanced safety, alleviated congestion and implemented train clearance protocol capabilities that were the first of their kind in Illinois.

"For decades, this intersection and its unusual layout, complicated by the two railroad crossings, had been a source of safety concerns, delays and driver frustration," Mayor Nunzio Pulice said.

That frustration largely stemmed from the two at-grade railroad crossings at the intersection, which accommodate more than 75 trains each day.

Working with HR Green, a professional engineering and technical consulting firm, the city hired R.W. Dunteman Co. to begin reconstruction in 2016 and completed the work in June 2017.

The project, which partnered the city with the Illinois Department of Transportation, Metra and the DuPage County Department of Transportation, included a wide scope of improvements.

The two roadways were widened and reconstructed to provide auxiliary turn lanes. Barrier medians were installed to reduce cross access movements and enhance safety.

In addition, the west leg of Commercial Street was realigned further north of the intersection, and the east leg was limited to right-in/right-out access.

Division Street, which provides access to the Metra station, was widened and reconstructed to provide separate turn lanes. Front Street was lengthened to accommodate long queues for the westbound to northbound right-turn movement. A cul-de-sac was added at Elmwood Avenue to eliminate direct access to Route 19 and improve safety.

Design elements also were implemented to make for a safer intersection for users by incorporating textured and colored crosswalks, protective railings and fencing to delineate crosswalks and direct pedestrians to safe points during roadway and railroad crossings. Drainage improvements, including a new storm sewer and water main, also were incorporated.

The unique feature of the project, however, was the implementation of a new traffic signal system with enhanced capabilities.

When a train approaches the intersection, it now initiates an all-red intersection signal, goes through a clearance protocol, and then allows for two red light overlap turning conditions while a train is in the station or traveling through the intersection. This new traffic signal controller was a major element of the new design and the first intersection in Illinois with this capability.

"The new improvements have helped improve safety, reduce driver confusion and congestion," Pulice said.

"We're proud to have this project provide easier access to Wood Dale," City Manager Jeff Mermuys said. "This intersection reconstruction will be the foundation of revitalization for our downtown area."

The Transportation Project of the Year Award was established to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works transportation projects by recognizing the alliance between the managing agency, the consultant/architect/engineer, and the contractor, who work together to complete public works projects.

The Wood Dale intersection project won in the category for work costing between $5 million and $25 million.