Towns teaming up to reduce congestion at Algonquin, New Wilke roads

Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows are working together on a $4.5 million plan to ease congestion at the busy intersection of Algonquin and New Wilke roads on the border of the two communities.

The project is more than a decade in the making - and it could take another four years or more to come to fruition - but design engineering work will kick off soon to examine the existing intersection and draw up ways to make the busy corner more free flowing.

That could include the addition of a dedicated right turn lane on westbound Algonquin Road to reduce the long line of cars that queues during the morning and afternoon rush hours. It's rare for vehicles to make it through the intersection in one signal cycle.

"A lot of people take Algonquin Road heading west home," said Rob Horne, public works director for Rolling Meadows. "If everyone in the right hand turn lane needs to turn right, it backs up pretty fast. By providing dedicated turn lanes for those movements, it won't back up so much for the people who are just wanting to go straight west."

Other changes could include the extension of an 8-foot-wide bike path south along New Wilke that would connect to existing bike paths leading to Busse Woods.

Because of the new turn lane and bike path, officials anticipate installing new curb ramps and pedestrian crossing signals on two corners of the intersection.

Engineers also will examine how to increase the amount of space for cars within existing left turn lanes. Upgrades proposed also include new traffic signals and countdown timers.

"It's really an intersection modernization and safety measures," Horne said. "Everything will be brought up to current standards."

Officials believe it will go a long way to improving the intersection, which has seen numerous accidents over the past five years.

Other busy nearby intersections, including Algonquin and Golf roads and New Wilke and Golf roads, have been widened and reconstructed in the last decade, but the Algonquin-New Wilke project has gotten deferred. Horne attributed it to the recession more than a decade ago, and the difficulty since then in obtaining grant funds.

But now earmarked federal funds could pay for most of the project. A preliminary cost breakdown estimates $3.5 million coming from the federal Surface Transportation Program, with Rolling Meadows and Arlington Heights splitting the remaining $1 million. That would pay for construction, land acquisition, and phase two and three engineering.

For now, the two towns will split the $142,669 payment to Rosemont-based Christopher B. Burke Engineering for phase one preliminary engineering. Rolling Meadows aldermen approved their share of the costs this month, and Arlington Heights trustees are expected to vote soon.

As part of the work, the engineering firm will obtain five years of crash data to do an analysis, and take vehicle and pedestrian traffic counts during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

The initial design is expected to take a year, followed by more design work and time to acquire land for the turn lane. It could take until 2023 for shovels to be in the ground, Horne said.

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