Road projects in Lake County: $129 million to widen Route 60/83, more
The Illinois Department of Transportation's six-year road plan contains a bonanza of projects for Lake County, including a whopping $129 million to widen Route 60/83 and take it over a troublesome railroad crossing in the Mundelein area.
Other work includes: widening Route 22 from Quentin Road to near Route 83 in Long Grove/Kildeer; realigning intersections on Route 83 from Route 120 to Route 137 and at Atkinson Road in Grayslake; widening Route 131 (Green Bay Road) from Wadsworth Road to Sunset Avenue in Beach Park; and modernizing the interchange of Route 41 (Skokie Highway) at Route 176 in Lake Bluff.
The projects are on a road work priority list as determined by Lake County and its communities, and account for an estimated cost of nearly $337 million.
Other highlights include widening Route 120 from Ashford Lane to Route 45 in Grayslake; widening and replacing a bridge and culvert on Route 132 (Grand Avenue) from Sheehan Drive to Munn Road in Lake Villa and Lindenhurst; and replacing a bridge on Route 132 at Cedar Lake Road in Lake Villa.
"I think Lake County fared very well," Schneider said. "We've done a lot of outreach with the public and elected officials over the last two years," he added.
Previously, proposed state road projects have languished for years without being built, but local and county officials are encouraged that won't happen with this batch.
Projects will be funded through the $23.5 billion Rebuild Illinois capital program, which is generating money from a tax increase on gasoline, higher license plate fees, gambling expansion and other sources.
Since the funding is reliable, Schneider said, identified road projects will advance more consistently.
"The good news is there is funding to build them after they go through the process. That's a big change from previous multiyear plans," he said. "We shouldn't see these long, 10-year delays," he added.
That's encouraging for Mundelein village leaders and anyone driving southeast on Route 60/83 from Route 176 (Maple Avenue). Plans call for the two-lane road to be rebuilt and widened for 3 miles from Route 176 to the CN railroad crossing near Diamond Lake Road.
"This is a significant step forward," Village Administrator John Lobaito said. "I think they're recognizing the importance of this (project) regionally," he added.
It's become more important with the demise of the long-proposed Route 53 extension from Lake-Cook Road to Route 120 in central Lake County.
"If you're not going to build Route 53, you have to widen (Route) 60/83," Lobaito said. A key to make the project effective is a grade separation at the CN (formerly EJE) railroad crossing.
The crossing is a well-known choke point drivers avoid by using neighborhood streets.
The village paid for a study that determined an overpass would be most effective and pushed IDOT to include that in the project. The overpass, pegged at about $22.6 million, was added to the project study in 2013.
According to Schneider, about 20 trains cross 60/83 every day and that is expected to grow to 29 trains a day. Trains can be 3 miles long and tie up traffic for up to an hour, he added.
Road projects proceed in three phases: preliminary engineering, which includes studies and public information meetings; design engineering, in which detailed construction plans are prepared, land acquired and other activities undertaken; and bidding and construction.
If the steps proceed consecutively, the time from planning to building is about six years. But getting past Phase 1 is the trick.
"We've been pushing for this for 11 years. This didn't happen overnight," Lobaito said of the Route 60/83 project, which is nearing the end of Phase 1. Roughly $9 million has been budgeted for land acquisition and other work in the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Construction plans for the majority of projects in Lake County and elsewhere have not been finalized and have a generic timetable of 2021-25.
"What's guaranteed is in fiscal year 2020. Everything else can move backward or forward," said Anthony Quigley, IDOT's Region 1 engineer. Factors include time needed to acquire land, for example.
"The jobs that are in here are jobs that are needed and ones people want," he said of the six-year plan. "If it's in here, we have the money for it."