Elgin residents have been hearing loud 'booms.' They want city, state to fix problem.

  • Semitrailer trucks crossing over Route 20 using the Route 31 bridge in Elgin might be the cause of loud "booms" that area residents say sometimes wake them up at night.

    Semitrailer trucks crossing over Route 20 using the Route 31 bridge in Elgin might be the cause of loud "booms" that area residents say sometimes wake them up at night. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Updated 12/11/2018 6:45 AM

Residents near Route 31 and Route 20 in Elgin say they have been hearing loud "booms" for several months and are asking the city and the state to help fix the problem.

The noise might be due to semitrailer trucks driving over the Route 31 bridge over Route 20, or possibly the Route 20 bridge over the Fox River, and hitting bumps that cause the trucks to bounce, said Sue Webb, president of the Elgin South West Area Neighbors group.


Webb spoke about the issue Saturday during a public hearing about the 2019 budget held by the city council. The noise most frequently happens in the early morning, waking up some residents, Webb said. One resident who uses a chair lift inside her house said the "booms" are so loud the vibrations cause the chair safety alarm to go off, Webb said.

More than 20 residents signed a petition in October asking the state of Illinois, which has jurisdiction over Route 31 and Route 20, to "repair the noise."

IDOT responded to Webb last week, saying in an email that an inspector checked out the Route 31 bridge to investigate the residents' concerns. "Several areas of the bridge deck have deteriorated leading to a poor riding surface, although no immediate hazards were identified. The city of Elgin has surface maintenance of the roadway in this area, and they have been requested to patch the deteriorated areas of the bridge deck to improve the ride quality."

IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell said Monday the department didn't detect any loud noises from the bridges in the area. "Since the Illinois 31 bridge was specifically mentioned in one of letters to us, we did take steps to notify the city about some of the surface conditions that were observed," he said.

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Kaptain said he asked the city manager and the public works supervisor to investigate. The city has a long-standing contract with the state to maintain Route 31, but it's unclear whether that includes bridge surfaces, he said.

Kaptain also pointed out sounds are magnified in the middle of the night.

According to IDOT's bridge information, the Route 31 bridge over Route 20 was inspected in January 2018 and the Route 20 bridge over the Fox River was inspected in 2017.

Both got the same ratings: the bridge decks were in poor condition due to "advanced deterioration;" the superstructures, including decks and girders, were in fair condition with "minor section loss, cracks;" and the substructures, such as piers and abutments, were in good condition with "some minor problems."

The Route 31 bridge is slated for replacement under IDOT's 2019-24 proposed highway improvement program, with estimated costs including $10.5 million for replacement, $1.2 million for construction engineering, $920,000 for preliminary engineering, and $615,000 for land acquisition.


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