Despite funding uncertainty, Lake County road program packed with projects

The Lake County Division of Transportation still has its foot on the gas with $670 million of work packed into its proposed 2020-2025 improvement program.

A draft of the hundreds of projects envisioned over the six-year period, including those planned or underway this season, include a substantial investment in bike paths and other nonmotorized improvements.

Also included is engineering for the long-sought realignment of Cedar Lake Road west of downtown Round Lake, as well as a new project for Quentin Road/Old McHenry Road that could top $100 million.

Changes are likely, particularly given the economy, and some proposed work will have to be delayed as there will be more projects than available funding.

The program is a working document that is adjusted and revised every year. Work on the latest version began about four months ago and was presented Wednesday to the county board's public works, planning and transportation committee.

County Engineer Shane Schneider acknowledged revenues, such as from sales taxes, will be affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. How long the impact will last or how deep it will be is undetermined.

"For this plan, we're assuming status quo funding," he said.

While funding likely won't be available for some projects, having them outlined and included in the plan will be a benefit when grants or other funding does becomes available.

In the current construction season, there is $80 million in projects in their second year or carried over from 2019, such as widening Quentin Road near Kildeer from White Pine Road to Route 22.

There also is $82 million in new projects this year, including the reconstruction and widening of sections of Lake-Cook, Weiland and Buffalo Grove roads in Buffalo Grove.

Current and future projects are divided into three categories: preservation, modernization and expansion.

Modernization work includes building bike paths, bike-friendly road shoulders or filling sidewalk gaps, and are targeted for $40 million in investment through 2025.

Some planned projects include:

• Cedar Lake Road: A study to realign Cedar Lake Road to the west of downtown Round Lake expected to be completed this year. The project will include a new crossing at the railroad. Construction could begin as soon as 2023.

• Quentin Road/Old McHenry Road: Quentin Road from Route 22 to Old McHenry Road and Old McHenry Road from Fairfield Road to Quentin Road. A study will evaluate widening to up to five lanes from two with a potential grade separation of Old McHenry at the EJ & E railroad, and various intersection improvements.

"This project could easily push the $100 million marker," Schneider said. "We're targeting 2025 (for construction), but a lot of that will depend on funding availability and project readiness."

The transportation improvement plan also includes information on funding sources and other facts, such as numbers of tunnels or miles of roadway in the system. It's expected to be complete and made available for public viewing at the LCDOT website in about a month.

A parapet wall is part of the reconstruction and widening of Quentin Road from White Pine Road to Route 22 in Kildeer. It is the second year of construction. Courtesy of Lake County Division Transportation
Aggregate is in place for a new portion of Quentin Road south of Pheasant Ridge Drive in Kildeer. Fabric beneath the stones stabilizes the underlying soil. Courtesy of Lake County Division of Transportation
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