Construction season is here -- our guide to surviving it
Localized pain. That's the prognosis as Construction Season 2018 looms in all its jackhammering, cement-mixing glory.
Budget blues have clipped IDOT's wings while the Illinois tollway has scaled back its typical building extravaganza this year.
But although there's no gargantuan Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) rebuild to cause driver angst as in past years, plenty of hot spots lurk. Those include the Jane Byrne Interchange rebuild in Chicago, the Cumberland flyover project on the Kennedy Expressway, widening on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) at I-290, and the onset of a massive Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) reconstruction.
"This year alone, the tollway is accelerating projects that will create an additional 3,000 jobs in the Chicagoland region while ensuring that critical congestion relief projects, like the Central Tri-State, have an opportunity to be completed ahead of schedule and under budget," Illinois Tollway Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom said.
The $4 billion Tri-State project will stretch from Rosemont to Oak Lawn. Crews will begin rehabilitating, widening and realigning ramps on I-294 in the Rosemont/Franklin Park area in the coming months.
But folks expecting dirt to fly on the tollway's Route 390 extension toward O'Hare International Airport will have to wait. The former Elgin-O'Hare Expressway reached Route 83 in 2017 amid a feverish pace of concrete pouring; in 2018 work continues, but at a slower pace. The agency is negotiating with the Canadian Pacific Railroad over right of way and finalizing designs to connect Route 390 with a ring road to be built on the west side of O'Hare, linking with I-294 in Franklin Park and I-90 near Des Plaines.
This spring and summer, crews will begin moving earth on the northern and southern legs of I-490 along with some grading and retaining wall construction.
Meanwhile, untangling the spaghetti-like contours of the Jane Byrne interchange, which connects the Ryan, Kennedy and Eisenhower expressways, is on target for its completion date of 2021.
The $600 million project is one of the Illinois Department of Transportation's largest and most complicated.
The tollway is budgeting $1.2 billion for capital work in 2018; IDOT has budgeted $2.2 billion for its annual highway program in the 2017/2018 fiscal year.
While the tollway has a growing source of revenue, IDOT is hamstrung with shrinking gas taxes and a state budget crisis.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his challenger in November's election, Democrat J.B. Pritzker, claim they want to fix the state's aging infrastructure, but both are short on specifics.
Rauner "would love to see a new capital plan -- but asking more of Illinois' already overtaxed citizens isn't the way to pay for it," spokeswoman Rachel Bold said.
"Short-term revenue sources, like public-private partnerships, federal funding, and increased gaming may be options to get a capital plan moving. In the long run the best way to pay for infrastructure upgrades is to pass balanced budgets and reforms that help our economy grow," Bold said.
Pritzker has said he'd consider collecting taxes based on miles people have traveled rather than per gallon of gas, which is declining. He also suggested expanding casino gambling or sports betting, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, and instituting a progressive income tax as possible sources to pay for highways.
"We are the supply chain hub of the nation," Pritzker said Monday. "If we do not invest in infrastructure, we will truly lose jobs, lose business and lose revenue."
Along with state projects, county and municipal road departments are ramping up for a busy season.
But while most counties are repairing and improving existing infrastructure, Kane County is powering through with the Longmeadow Parkway project. Although lawsuits objecting to putting the road through the Brunner Family Forest Preserve are ongoing, the county already has finished part of the route and will continue construction between White Chapel Lane and east of Route 31, and between Route 25 and Route 62 this year in the Algonquin/Carpentersville area.
Federal and state funding and a proposed toll bridge will help fund the ambitious work. "It's our second once-in-a-lifetime project," Kane Assistant Director of Transportation Steve Coffinbarger said jokingly, referring to the Stearns Road Corridor, finished in 2010.
In Lake County, IDOT is starting work on a long-awaited project with the county -- the Millburn bypass that realigns Route 45 to the west in the Lindenhurst area.
And along with concrete and asphalt work, DuPage County is connecting 128 more traffic signals with a computer system that observes road conditions and makes adjustments when needed, and adding 60 cameras. The cost is $4.5 million.
The expansion, done in collaboration with Naperville, will let authorities "collaborate on and adjust traffic signals as needed, allowing for less congestion on roadways and better coordination and synchronization to improve traffic flow," DuPage Transportation Committee Chairman Don Puchalski said.
Here's a detailed look at local projects.
• Resurfacing on Bode Road between Sutton and Barrington roads;
• Resurfacing on Bradwell Road between Barrington and Ela roads;
• Resurfacing on Brinker Road between Algonquin and County Line roads;
• Resurfacing on Mundhank Road between Higgins Road and North Meadow Court;
• Resurfacing on Otis Road between Old Sutton and Brinker roads;
• Lake-Cook Road reconstruction from Raupp Boulevard to Hastings Lane;
• Repairs of the Quentin Road bridge at Salt Creek;
• Reconstruction on Central Road between Ela and Roselle roads.
• Resurfacing on County Farm Road between Jewell Road and North Avenue, and between Army Trail and Schick roads;
• Resurfacing on Schick Road between County Farm Road and Gary Avenue;
• Resurfacing on 75th Street between Route 59 and Olympus Drive;
• Resurfacing on 63rd Street between Cass Avenue and Madison Street;
• Improvements on 55th Street in Downers Grove;
• Improvements on Greenbrook Boulevard in Hanover Park;
• Repaving the I-290 bridge over Salt Creek near Wood Dale.
• Adding a new traffic signal and turn lanes at Huntley and Galligan roads near Gilberts;
• Bridge reconstruction on West County Line Road north of Maple Park;
• Replacing traffic signals and adding turn lanes on Kirk Road at Pine Street;
• Resurfacing on Ridgefield Road at Route 14 in Crystal Lake;
• Construction on Algonquin Road from Harvest Gate to Oakleaf Road.
• Widening Quentin Road in Kildeer and Lake Zurich;
• Reconstruction on Old McHenry Road in Long Grove;
• Widening and rebuilding on Cedar Lake Road in Round Lake;
• Construction of Millburn bypass that realigns Route 45 to the west;
• Realigning the intersection of Nippersink and Wilson roads in Round Lake;
• Resurfacing Route 132 between Routes 45 and 131;
• Bridge replacement at Rand Road and Route 59 southbound.
• Daily Herald staff writer Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.