The Lake in the Hills and Algonquin village boards recently reviewed the merits of a potential continuous flow intersection at Randall and Algonquin roads and other planned improvements along Randall that could affect area businesses.
The boards heard from two engineering and design firms trying to get a design contract from McHenry County for the work.
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A continuous flow intersection, or CFI, at Randall and Algonquin roads is part of a McHenry County Division of Transportation plan to improve the 3½-mile stretch of Randall Road from Ackman Road to County Line Road. It would be the first one in Illinois.
The county is still working on Phase II design work and land acquisition necessary for Randall Road improvements. There is no timeline set for construction to begin.
A final decision from the county on whether to put in a CFI or a more traditional intersection with two left-turn lanes at Randall and Algonquin also is pending as the affected jurisdictions along Randall Road need to weigh in on the project.
At a CFI, left-turning vehicles start turning several hundred feet before the main intersection at a crossover intersection and traffic is channeled into separate lanes allowing them to turn left at the same time that other vehicles are going straight.
The Lake in the Hills Village Board earlier favored dual left-turn lanes over a CFI, and more than 30 businesses along Randall Road signed a petition in agreement.
Algonquin Village President John Schmitt said while much of the discussion thus far has centered on the Randall/Algonquin intersection, the entire project could severely affect businesses along the corridor.
"We've got a road that is overtaxed, and it doesn't have the capacity to handle the traffic that is there today," he said. "We need to have a highway in place that will accommodate (future traffic) increase so that our businesses can survive. You need to move traffic so that people feel comfortable going to a store, (and) they know that they can get out of there in a reasonable amount of time."
According to numbers provided by the county, by 2030 without any improvements, the wait time to get through the Randall/Algonquin intersection heading north during afternoon rush hour is between 125 seconds and 150 seconds.
With dual left turn lanes, that wait time reduces to 93 seconds, while a CFI would reduce the wait time to 38 seconds, Schmitt said.
"If we do nothing, and allow this to become similar to Route 14 going through Crystal Lake, our businesses are going to suffer horribly," Schmitt said. "Our retail businesses are our lifeblood. If we don't have the infrastructure in place that they need to survive, our businesses are going to close. If we don't do that, shame on us, and shame on any other community that fails to understand that the retail businesses will starve, if we do nothing."
Algonquin and Lake in the Hills are both dealing with empty storefronts along Randall Road.
Schmitt said he met with several businesses and presented their concerns to the county, after which the county has agreed to leave existing curb cuts on Algonquin Road open to provide access, he said.
Schmitt urged community leaders and residents to voice their concerns to the county.
"It's incumbent on us to make sure (the project) satisfies our needs," he added. "It's pretty tough for the county to get funding from the state and federal government, if all the municipalities around the project are against it."