Major road project in Hawthorn Woods area advances 10 years after initial study
More than a decade after it first was studied, a project to ease traffic congestion in the Hawthorn Woods area is expected to get underway in coming weeks.
The Lake County Board's public works, planning and transportation committee on Wednesday unanimously recommended approval of a $10.58 million contract with Berger Excavating Contractors of Wauconda for the work at Gilmer and Midlothian roads.
The project involves adding through lanes, turn lanes, drainage upgrades and bike paths.
Berger submitted the lowest responsible of five bids, ranging to a high of $13.94 million. The full county board is expected to approve the contract Tuesday.
Advance utility work would begin this fall, but most of the road and associated construction will happen next year. The work is expected to take 150 working days, according to Shane Schneider, director of the Lake County Division of Transportation.
The project covers 2.26 miles. On Gilmer, it extends from Crescent Drive/Cardinal Drive south to the CN railroad tracks. On Midlothian, the work extends from 1,000 feet south of Hawthorn Hills Drive to Sylvan Drive.
The intersection is in Hawthorn Woods and unincorporated portions of Ela and Fremont townships. The last major improvement there was in 1994, when lanes were added and the four legs of the intersection resurfaced.
As the area continued to grow, a study to address backups and determine how to improve safety began in 2011. Forty-three crashes were reported between 2009 and 2013. Most were turning or rear-end crashes, which showed the intersection was over capacity, records show.
According to Lake DOT, about 12,000 to 13,000 vehicles per day travel on Gilmer and Midlothian roads. Traffic is expected to increase by about 25% by 2040.
A roundabout was evaluated as an option, but a traditional intersection with traffic signals was chosen.
The project calls for a second through lane in each direction, left-turn lanes at every corner and right-turn lanes at two corners. West Sylvan Drive will be resurfaced as part of the project to be reimbursed by Fremont Township.
Crosswalks and pedestrian paths also are included. Townships will contribute 20% of the cost in their respective areas.
"The project will relieve traffic and provide new options for pedestrians and bikers," said committee member Jessica Vealitzek, whose district includes the intersection.
In July, the county board appropriated $17.5 million to cover estimated project costs and a contingency.
The board at the time also approved a $1.2 million contract with Crystal Lake engineering firm Baxter and Woodman to oversee construction.