When ramps will close at Route 59, I-88
One of the last remaining steps of a two-year project to widen Route 59 along the Naperville/Aurora border will require ramp closures at I-88 during parts of 11 days this month.
Beginning 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, and concluding 5 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21, crews will change the configuration of the interchange to a new format called a diverging diamond, which transportation officials say will increase safety by eliminating left turns across traffic.
The ramp work is one of the final elements of a nearly $90 million project to widen a congested 3-mile stretch of Route 59 between Ferry Road on the north and Aurora Avenue/New York Street on the south.
To install the new interchange, six of eight ramps at 59 and I-88 will be closed while crews pour new concrete medians, install traffic signals and lighting towers, connect cables and wires, post new signs and paint lane markings.
Two ramps planned to remain open will allow drivers on Route 59 to make right turns onto the tollway, said Bill Novack, director of transportation, engineering and development for the city of Naperville. That means drivers heading north on Route 59 will be able to go east on I-88, and those driving south on 59 will be allowed to head west.
Tollway drivers will not be able to exit at Route 59 during the closure. Drivers will be directed to exit I-88 at Winfield Road east of 59 or Eola Road to the west and use Diehl Road to the south or Butterfield Road to the north to get back to 59.
"When we reopen, we should be in the diverging diamond configuration," Novack said. "That will be the exciting part."
At first, only two lanes in each direction will be available at the diverging diamond, said Guy Tridgell, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation. The third lanes are expected to open by the end of the month as drivers begin adjusting to the new pattern.
"We've been told it's a very seamless transition," Tridgell said. "It might seem a little different at first, but it's something that motorists, when it's been done elsewhere, have seemed to take to quite easily."
Contractors have been given a deadline at the end of this month to have three lanes open in each direction throughout the work zone, which has been divided into northern, middle and southern sections built by different companies. Tridgell said crews are on track to meet the deadline, despite progress in the southern portion lagging slightly behind the other two areas.
"We're anticipating being complete and having all lanes open by the end of September," he said.
That would be music to the ears of Guitar Center sales associate Jeremy Wagner, who said the lengthy project has hurt his bottom line, required him to detour his commute to the store at 996 Route 59 in Aurora and made it nearly impossible to take a quick lunch break for a fresh sandwich at Target across the street.
"I've talked to a lot of customers who don't really want to come down if they don't have to because of the construction," said Wagner, who loses opportunities to make commission when fewer customers show up. "It's cut down on our casual foot traffic."
Guitar Center is in the southern portion of the project, which stretches from North Aurora Road to Aurora Avenue/New York Street and is being built by Martam Construction Inc. of Elgin and K-Five Construction Corp. of Lemont under a contract with the state department of transportation totaling roughly $32 million.
The middle section runs from North Aurora to Diehl roads and is being widened by Martam under a $24.4 million contract.
The northern section, including the new tollway interchange to be built by Herlihy Mid-Continent Co. of Romeoville for $25.9 million, runs from Diehl to Ferry roads.