Congestion relief coming for Gilmer/Midlothian intersection
Lake County officials have appropriated $17.5 million to address a long-standing traffic bottleneck at Gilmer and Midlothian roads in Hawthorn Woods.
The project will add a second through lane in each direction, left-turn lanes at every corner and right-turn lanes at two corners and will provide other improvements in the area, including pedestrian paths.
"It will probably take about two years to complete the work," County Engineer Shane Schneider said during a recent discussion of the project.
"We'll start this fall, mainly with advance utility relocation work, and then we'll start in earnest in the spring on the actual pavement widening."
The county board on Tuesday approved funding for the project as well as a $1.2 million contract with Baxter and Woodman of Crystal Lake to oversee construction. Bids for construction are expected to be let in August.
An initial study of how to address backups in the busy area began in 2011. Several public meetings were held and a preferred alternative selected in 2015.
The project was slated for construction last year but was delayed because of funding uncertainties related to the coronavirus pandemic, Schneider said.
The overall project spans 2.26 miles. Roadwork on Gilmer Road extends from Crescent Drive/Cardinal Drive on the north to the CN railroad tracks to the south. On Midlothian, the work stretches from 1,000 feet south of Hawthorn Hills Drive to 100 feet south of Sylvan Drive.
Crosswalks and pedestrian paths are also included in the project, which includes several jurisdictions.
Schneider said the Lake County Division of Transportation worked closely with Hawthorn Woods as well as Fremont and Ela townships. Each will contribute 20% of the cost of "nonmotorized improvements" in their respective areas.
"We have been anticipating this project for the last two years and are very supportive that the funding for the project is now coming through," said Pam Newton, chief operating officer for Hawthorn Woods.
"That intersection improvement will really assist motorists with additional movement, especially when the intersection is backed up by the CN trains."
Schneider said a grade separation for the railroad crossing was not part of the scope of work, but the design of the road improvements takes significant traffic backups after a train has passed into account.
County board member John Wasik of Grayslake, who has several at grade rail crossings in his jurisdiction, agreed the project will be beneficial.
"This has long been a bottleneck in this area, and I think it will improve traffic flow," he said.
However, he warned of expected increases in freight train traffic at this and other locations in Lake County.
The measure approved Tuesday appropriates $17.5 million, although the estimated construction cost is $14.6 million. The approved funding includes a contingency for possible fluctuations in bidding, cost of materials and other factors, according to Alex Carr, LCDOT spokesman.