Lake County road project on Milwaukee Ave starts

Updated 3/22/2012 1:55 PM
  • Crews remove painted lane markers Thursday morning to make way for new traffic patterns along Milwaukee Avenue north of Libertyville.

      Crews remove painted lane markers Thursday morning to make way for new traffic patterns along Milwaukee Avenue north of Libertyville. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

What is expected to be one of the more disruptive road projects in Lake County officially got under way Thursday, though the real mess is months away.

Intermittent lane closures were expected to remove pavement markings, as traffic on about a 700-foot section of Milwaukee Avenue north of Libertyville was being shifted onto temporary pavement to the east.

The shift will allow for demolition of a bridge where Milwaukee crosses Bull Creek, about midway between Casey Road and Route 137. As the project progresses, all traffic will be shifted to the east side of Milwaukee Avenue while new lanes are built on the west side. Two lanes will be kept open, though they will be narrower than the current roadway.

The $23 million project, which is being paid for by Lake County and managed by the Illinois Department of Transportation, will widen the last two-lane stretch of Milwaukee Avenue between Libertyville and Gurnee, a distance of about two miles.

It also involves widening the Milwaukee/Route 137 intersection, which is expected by village officials and businesses in the area to be the most disruptive portion of the project.

The village is set to begin issuing alerts and updates but is waiting for the big shoe to drop.

"When that wholesale thing happens, we're going to let people know," said Libertyville public works director John Heinz.

"As far as the overall (project), I haven't gotten anything that says, `Boom, we're going to hit it and hit it hard,' I just don't want to be the guy who cries wolf."

IDOT Spokesman Mike Claffey said summer is the target for the intersection.

"We think it will be starting in midsummer. There are a lot of utility lines that have to be moved in advance of that," he said.

Heinz and others are anxious for the intersection work to be completed in one construction season. The overall project, is scheduled for two years but is expected to be substantially complete by fall 2013.

A trail underpass at near Casey road, construction of four retention ponds, and sidewalks along Milwaukee Avenue and Route 137 are also part of the project.

Rich Laskowski Jr.'s family owns eight Ace Hardware stores in Lake County, including one near the targeted intersection in Libertyville. Its three full driveway accesses off Route 137 will be reduced to two, with the third right-in and right-out during the project.

"We're crossing our fingers," Laskowski said "I'm hoping it goes as cleanly as the Route 45 and Washington (Street) intersection went. I felt it flowed nicely."

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