1 more road closure needed to finish Lake County roundabout project
Roberts Road in southwestern Lake County will be closed to traffic for three weeks and when it reopens, drivers will have a new configuration to navigate as a long-running roundabout project nears completion.
The closure between Darrell Road and Route 59 begins Monday, Oct. 12. River Road will remain closed north of Kelsey Road as part of the work. The Roberts Road detour will be Darrell Road to Route 176 to Route 12/59, while travelers on River Road will use Kelsey Road to Route 59.
Work on Lake County's first multilane roundabout has been underway since August 2014. The $7 million project will replace the "T" intersection at River Road and Roberts Road in Lake Barrington.
"When they open the road back up, people will be driving through the actual roundabout," said Brooke Hooker, spokeswoman for the Lake County Division of Transportation.
Besides the roundabout, which features two lanes encircling a 27-foot landscaped center island, the project extends about 1,000 feet east and west of the intersection on Roberts and 800 feet south on River Road. The area is bordered by wetlands, and a considerable amount of time was needed to stabilize the ground to ensure the road doesn't sink.
"What we've been contending with on this site is unstable soil conditions," said Al Giertych, assistant county engineer.
About 2,000 concrete piers, called ground improvement columns, were sunk to depths of 40 to 60 feet and allowed to settle. More columns than originally envisioned were needed and some were sunk deeper than initially thought, according to Ashley Newton, a public information consultant for the project.
Newton said it was the most critical and difficult part of the process, and she described it as building an underground bridge in a swamp. Stabilization would have been necessary regardless of the type of road improvement being done, she added. Utility relocations delayed the start of the project, but safety is the priority, she said.
"Everyone on the project team, from design to construction, knows this project is difficult, complicated and frustrating for those in the area," she said.
Roundabouts are touted as increasing the traffic capacity for an intersection by 30 percent to 50 percent without the need for a traffic signal. A 75 percent reduction in injury crashes also is listed as a benefit. The technique is still unfamiliar enough that the project website, www.riverroberts.com, includes a graphic and information on how to navigate a roundabout.
"There have always been people who thought they wouldn't work and they've always come around," said Craig Taylor, a Lake County Board member who represents a neighboring district.
The Lake County Forest Preserve District and the village of Lake Barrington are also involved in the project. A path will connect sections of the Fox River Forest Preserve, which is separated by Roberts Road, as well as Twin Ponds subdivision.
The project is intended to improve air quality, and the federal Congestion, Mitigation & Air Quality improvement program is paying 80 percent of the cost.