Emotions mixed as Hawley Street lane closure looms
A roughly milelong stretch of Hawley Street through Mundelein will be limited to one-way traffic starting today as crews begin the most disruptive phase of an $11.7 million road reconstruction project.
Smoother rides certainly will be appreciated by drivers who've lost tires and struts to Hawley's notorious potholes and bumps.
But from now until mid-August, no cars will be allowed eastbound on Hawley between Midlothian Road and Chicago Avenue, a main drag that goes through the downtown area, feeds into several residential neighborhoods and sees about 8,600 cars daily. Drivers will have to detour north to Route 176 or find other routes.
That worries Elaine Hanusa, whose Flowerama shop at 4 W. Hawley St. is in the middle of the construction zone.
"If you can't get on Hawley this way, there's no way to get in (our) driveway," she said. "We have Mother's Day (coming up), and three proms."
Not everyone shares Hanusa's apprehension.
"It's a little bit hard, but in the future, the street's going to be better," said Mirna Ocampo, who lives on the 300 block of West Hawley. "For good things, you need to pay a price."
Why the detour?
Hawley is being rebuilt and widened with a center-turn lane in that part of town. The project began in 2015 and should wrap up in 2017.
New sanitary and storm sewers and water lines are being added. So are new traffic lights and sidewalks and an extension of the Millennium Trail that loops through Lake County.
Mundelein and Lake County officials are teaming on the project, with the county covering most of the tab. When the work is done, that stretch will become the county's responsibility.
Signs will direct eastbound drivers to Route 176. Village Administrator John Lobaito recommends drivers follow the signs rather than trying to find their own routes.
"The arterials are closed at Hawley, so anyone trying to short circuit the detour will only have to reroute back to the posted detour," he said.
Hawley's westbound lane will be rebuilt this fall after the eastbound lane is completed. For that work, westbound traffic temporarily will be diverted onto one of the new lanes.
'It's no problem'
Route 45 bisects the construction zone. To the east, Hawley Street is a largely commercial strip lined with shops, a few restaurants and other businesses. The road is almost entirely residential to the west.
People who live on Hawley in the work zone will be able to use their driveways, regardless of whether they live on the north or south side of the street, Lobaito said.
The work could make it harder for residents in the neighborhoods near Hawley Street to get around, too.
Maximino Cortes, whose house on the 400 block of Fairlawn Avenue is on the northeast corner of Fairlawn and Hawley, doesn't mind.
"It's no problem for me," Cortes said. "It's OK because they're going to fix it."
Cortes' house isn't far from Sandburg Middle School, on the southwest corner of Hawley and California Avenue.
Mundelein Elementary District 75 Superintendent Andy Henrikson is ready for some construction-related tardiness.
Parents who live north or west of the school should take Route 176 to California or Bonniebrook avenues to get to campus, he said.
Durham School Services handles busing for District 75, and some routes will be affected by the road closure, Henrikson said.
"Durham has promised to do trial runs on these new routes without students so that we are well-prepared for (Monday)," he said.
Even so, Sandburg officials will give students a little leeway as people get used to the detour, Henrikson said.
"We will work with our parents to excuse late students as we form new arrival patterns," he said.
That's not the case at nearby Mundelein High School.
Although the campus is at the western edge of the construction zone on the northwest corner of Hawley and Midlothian Road, officials expect students to make it to school on time.
"Because of the multiple ways to access the high school, we trust that students and parents have already planned ahead for this and will make the appropriate adjustments in their travel time and routes," school spokesman Ron Girard said.
Girard isn't worried about busing, either. Durham handles Mundelein High's bus service, and he believes the company is ready.
"We don't expect the Hawley Street project (will) affect us at all," he said.
Shop owner worried
Flowerama's Hanusa isn't so optimistic. She's afraid potential customers will drive to other florists rather than navigate the detour.
Hanusa is especially worried about losing the business of hundreds of teenagers who need flowers for prom dates next month.
"We have a lot of walk-in (business), more so than most florists," she said. "That's why we picked this corner."
David Pathmann, manager of the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store at the southeast corner of Seymour Avenue and Hawley Street, knows the lane closure will inconvenience some of his customers. But he's glad the village finally is repairing the road.
"I drive through it every day, and my car takes a beating," he said.
Sherwin-Williams offers free delivery to contractors, and he said requests for that service might increase this summer.
"We'll have to work a little harder to make people happy, but if that's what it takes," Pathmann said. "We'll make the best of it and make our customers happy any way possible."