Is the start of Route 45/Millburn bypass project near?
A key action has brought the Millburn bypass project closer to an actual start, six years after Lake County budgeted $34 million to ensure completion of the work on the state route.
The Lake County Board on Tuesday agreed to accept the jurisdictional transfer from the Illinois Department of Transporation of nearly a mile of existing Route 45 -- it will be known as Old Route 45 -- when the bypass to the west is complete. The county will be responsible for maintaining that stretch of Old Route 45.
The county in November 2011 agreed to fund the bypass project and appropriated $34 million to relocate and widen about a mile of Route 45 to bypass Millburn and Grass Lakes roads in Old Mill Creek and Lindenhurst.
Traffic signals on existing Route 45 at those intersections are close together in a configuration that has come to be known as the "Millburn Strangler" because backups are common during peak times.
Addressing the situation has been a priority for the county for many years. Public meetings were held and several alignments considered before the western route was chosen.
County officials twice extended the original agreement with IDOT to the current expiration of Aug. 3, 2018. While the county is paying for the project, the state will manage the work.
While behind-the-scenes work has progressed, the goal to go out to bids last summer or fall was delayed. Going out to bid depends on IDOT completing acquisition of 31 parcels and agreements with local agencies, according to Gianna Urgo, IDOT spokeswoman.
With the recent sale of 11.6 acres of McDonald's Woods Forest Preserve to IDOT, the stage has been set. Bids were on track to be sought in March "last I heard," said Chuck Gleason, project manager for the Lake County Division of Transportation. "That's a good thing."
ComEd crews have been moving poles and, if the bids go out in March, construction could start in May or June, he said.
The bypass will stretch about 7,200 feet from Country Place to Independence Boulevard, north of the Millburn Historic District. As part of the funding agreement, Lake County will accept the "old Route 45" from the edge of pavement of relocated Route 45 on the south to a cul-de-sac to be built 550 feet north of Independence Boulevard.
The bypass will pass through the eastern portion of McDonald Woods and include a 10-foot-wide shared-use path on the west side and a sidewalk on the east side of the new road corridor.
A portion of the path from McDonald Woods north to Independence Boulevard will become an extension of the Millennium Trail. The forest district will pay for the path adjacent to McDonald's Woods and half the cost of the sidewalk adjacent to the preserve, while the state will pay the remainder.