What to do with Routes 83, 137 in Grayslake area?

  • A stretch of Route 83 in Grayslake narrows to two lanes.

      A stretch of Route 83 in Grayslake narrows to two lanes. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • Charts and other exhibits were displayed during a recent open house for the Illinois 83/137 study. The Illinois Department of Transporation is considering potential improvements to an 11-mile stretch of Route 83 from Lake Villa to Libertyville.

      Charts and other exhibits were displayed during a recent open house for the Illinois 83/137 study. The Illinois Department of Transporation is considering potential improvements to an 11-mile stretch of Route 83 from Lake Villa to Libertyville. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/31/2016 6:43 PM

Decades ago, driving along Route 83 in the Grayslake area was more relaxed.

"We could talk to our neighbors across the street. It was almost like a side street 37 years ago," said Karen Sadilek, who still lives in the stretch known as Barron Boulevard near Grayslake Middle School.

 

Now, it can take 45 minutes during busy times to travel a few miles in that vicinity, and the Illinois Department of Transportation is considering ways to improve safety, move traffic and protect natural resources along the major north-south corridor.

The Illinois 83/137 study spans 11 miles along Route 83 from Route 132 (Grand Avenue) in Lake Villa south through Round Lake Beach to Route 137 at Route 120 in Grayslake, then south on Route 137 to east of Route 45 in Libertyville.

A lengthy process to determine what might be the best solution is slowly proceeding. A second public information meeting -- four years after the first one -- was held last week with the goal of educating property owners and securing public comment before determining a preferred alternative. Once selected, it will be presented at a public hearing, likely at the end of 2017 or early 2018.

"The big thing for us is getting through Phase 1," said John Baldauf, project manager for IDOT. "That will determine what we're going to build and how much it's going to cost."

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Money has been allocated for project planning and to prepare contracts, but none has been designated for land acquisition or construction. Arriving at those numbers is included in this part of the study.

Sadilek was among 112 people who stopped by the open house session at the Round Lake Beach Cultural & Civic Center to get a sense of what could be.

An option for a lane in each direction with a center turn lane already has been dismissed.

Building roundabouts to manage traffic were studied at 20 intersections, but only two were carried forward for continued study.

Possibilities now are focused on three variations of two lanes in each direction with raised curb or grass medians or a flush median with center turn lanes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

IDOT also is proposing a 9.5-mile shared-use path connecting the four communities. The path would provide residents with direct access to four countywide regional trails -- Millennium, Fort Hill, Prairie Crossing and Casey Trail and Greenway.

Creating a biking/hiking path system throughout is required as part of the purpose and need for the project, according to Baldauf.

"We want to hear from shareholders right now and hopefully address as many concerns as we can," he said.

Visit www.idot.illinois.gov/project/il83-137-study for maps, descriptions and other details.

Linda Wurzbach, who lives in the South Creek subdivision off Route 120, said her mother-in-law's house would "disappear" if one of the roundabouts makes the cut.

"We're going to go for the (center) turn lane option," she said.

Karen Sadilek of Grayslake looks over potential Route 83 improvements near her house.
  Karen Sadilek of Grayslake looks over potential Route 83 improvements near her house. - Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

Route 83 is a major north-south corridor through central Lake County that carries 13,000 to 22,000 vehicles per day at various points, but that's expected to increase to as much as 31,000 per day by 2040.

The number and type of uses along the route include businesses, houses, schools, churches, parks, and open and natural areas.

Based on land uses and existing conditions, the corridor is divided into three sections: Route 132 to Washington Street (suburban, moderate development), Washington Street to Route 120 (urban, highly developed), and the rural and sparsely developed section of Route 137 from Route 83 to east of Route 45.

From 2009 to 2011, there were 706 crashes in the 11-mile stretch. Fifty-four percent were of the rear-end variety and 19 percent occurred during turns, indicating a lot of stop-and-go traffic, according to IDOT.

The study began with a public meeting in March 2012, followed by four meetings of a Community Advisory Group composed of residential and business owners, community leaders and elected officials, to identify corridor issues and needs.

Comments received by June 7 will become part of the official record. A third public meeting is tentatively scheduled for this winter.

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