After decades of discussion, Millburn bypass to become reality

  • Traffic moves along Route 45 south of Millburn Road near Lindenhurst and Old Mill Creek. Major traffic backups occur at the intersection during key driving times.

      Traffic moves along Route 45 south of Millburn Road near Lindenhurst and Old Mill Creek. Major traffic backups occur at the intersection during key driving times. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Work begins in earnest Monday to untangle what is known as the Millburn Strangler, a segment of Route 45 in Lindenhurst and Old Mill Creek.

      Work begins in earnest Monday to untangle what is known as the Millburn Strangler, a segment of Route 45 in Lindenhurst and Old Mill Creek. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • Work is set to begin Monday to untangle what is known as the Millburn Strangler, a segment of Route 45 in Lindenhurst and Old Mill Creek.

      Work is set to begin Monday to untangle what is known as the Millburn Strangler, a segment of Route 45 in Lindenhurst and Old Mill Creek. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/6/2018 7:29 PM

A plan envisioned decades ago to untangle what is known as the Millburn Strangler in Lindenhurst and Old Mill Creek by relocating Route 45 to the west is officially underway.

Utilities have or are being relocated or adjusted, trees have been marked, and all manner of multicolored cones, flags and ribbons are in abundance.

 

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, daytime lane closures on Route 45 from Grass Lake Road to Country Place will begin Monday for tree removal and building demolition in the path of the Millburn bypass.

After that, work will begin on the structures and the storm sewer, with rough grading and construction of the pavement to follow. The project is expected to be substantially complete by late summer 2019.

"Long, long time coming," Lindenhurst Mayor Dominic Marturano said. "All the years of talking and planning -- some never thought we'd ever see this project completed in our lifetime."

Bottlenecks on the two-lane Route 45 in that area have been a perennial frustration during peak times for drivers because Grass Lake and Millburn roads are 330 feet apart and each has traffic signals.

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Backups caused by the current configuration also are a deterrent to development, added Village Administrator Clay Johnson.

"With this improvement, all should see better traffic flow, but we also hope everyone will notice the inclusion of bike paths and sidewalks to increase non-vehicular transit options," he said.

Route 45 will be relocated and widened to two lanes in each direction with new curbs, medians, guardrails and turn lanes for a distance of about 7,200 feet from Country Place to 1,400 feet north of Independence Boulevard. Also, Grass Lake Road will be widened and realigned to tie into Milburn Road at existing Route 45.

Addressing congestion in the area has been a long and sometimes contentious process. At one point, 18 options were presented, with residents favoring a bypass to the east as being less disruptive.

But county, state and federal engineers chose the western route as offering better performance, avoiding the Millburn Historic District and unmarked graves and having the greatest potential for trail connections.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Though it is a state road, Lake County officials in 2011 appropriated $34 million to build the bypass and associated elements to ensure the project would be completed.

Bids were opened in late April. Berger Excavating Contractors Inc. was awarded the construction bid for about $15.58 million.

This year, the Lake County accepted the transfer from IDOT of what will be known as Old Route 45 when the bypass is complete.

The bypass will pass through the eastern part of the McDonald Woods Forest Preserve and include a shared-use path on the west side and a sidewalk on the east side of the new road.

The bypass also will split one subdivision and border another.

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