Route 59 'flows a lot better' for Naperville/Aurora shoppers
Road construction along Route 59 at the Naperville/Aurora border took a break for Thanksgiving the past two years, but this time, it's not coming back.
The two-year $90 million widening project concluded just in time for Black Friday shoppers to make their way more easily to retailers and restaurants along the three-mile stretch from Ferry Road to Aurora Avenue/New York Street.
"We do really appreciate having Route 59 open. It's so much better, so much easier to navigate through," said Lynda Budnik, assistant manager at American Sale at Route 59 and North Aurora Road in Naperville. "It's a lot nicer to have three lanes wide open. It flows a lot better."
Work in some sections of the construction zone was complete by Oct. 1, the deadline set when the project began in August 2013. But other sections didn't wrap up until days before Thanksgiving.
"If you can just get through November when you start doing your holiday shopping, you'll have amazing access to these businesses. It will be worth it," Nicki Anderson, president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, said last month.
Now three lanes of Route 59 are open both north and south. Extra turn lanes have been added; the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad underpass has been widened; access at some small side streets has been blocked to improve traffic flow and cross streets including Diehl, Brookdale and North Aurora roads, Glacier Park Avenue, Meridian Parkway, Jefferson Avenue/Liberty Street; and Aurora Avenue/New York Street have been expanded.
Some piles of dirt remain along the road where sidewalks will be installed next spring. Landscaping and finishing touches are expected to continue as well, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
But the road, which carries an estimated 50,000 cars a day, looks, feels and acts like it's finished, those who travel it to work say.
"It's absolutely fabulous," said Holly Bruno, store director of the At Home decor store at 956 Route 59 in Aurora. "Customers are excited that they can actually drive without being stuck."
Gulmira Usmanova, store manager of At Home, said her coffee runs to a nearby Dunkin' Donuts are back to being enjoyable breaks instead of frustrating fights around barricades and through traffic.
Usmanova said she noticed the work wrapped up about a week ago as the last of the orange cones were removed. But customers, she says, are still picking up on the completion of the project when they venture out to look for gifts and deals.
The story's the same at American Sale, where the financial effects of the two-year road construction project might still be felt for months to come.
"It definitely hurt our business a little bit. Well, maybe a lot bit," Budnik said. "It's hard to say if business is picking up."