'A pretty complicated project': Lake County planning improvements at one of its busiest intersections
A complicated project to address safety at one of Lake County's busiest intersections -- a gateway to I-94 but also site of a sharp increase in crashes -- is in the works.
Rebuilding the Hunt Club Road/Washington Street intersection in Gurnee also will extend nonmotorized access to regional systems by filling gaps between existing bike trails that connect with the Des Plaines River Trail to the east and Rollins Savanna Forest Preserve to the west.
About 60,000 vehicles daily pass through the intersection, which is close to I-94, Gurnee Mills, Six Flags Great America, schools and other destinations. The junction is the busiest in the Lake County Division of Transportation's jurisdiction.
"Improving the safety at the intersection is the primary goal," said Matt Emde, the county's project manager.
According to LCDOT, there were 212 crashes at the intersection between 2017 and 2021, with an uptick in the number and severity from the previous five-year period.
The vast majority have been rear-end or turning crashes, LCDOT reported.
The number of crashes involving injuries has doubled to 53. Of those, 17 required extrication of vehicle occupants, compared to just four between 2012-2016. No fatalities were reported in either time period.
Bids for the estimated $16 million project are expected to be sought early next year with construction to follow. The project includes dual left turn lanes with green arrows and right turn lanes on all four legs of the intersection.
"There's not going to be more impactful project in my district during my time on the board," said county board member Carissa Casbon, whose district includes the intersection.
Getting to that point will be tricky, Emde said.
"It's a pretty congested intersection with private utilities. We also have three water mains there," he said. "It's a pretty complicated project."
Earlier this month, the county acquired right of way from the village of Gurnee and authorized three measures involving the pending project.
Gurnee will reimburse the county more than $1.13 million to include nonmotorized improvements and median landscaping, and to modify a water main and other facilities. The Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency will reimburse the county another $1.94 million to accommodate two large water mains.
A $1.6 million contract with Ciorba Group Inc., of Chicago for construction engineering services has been approved. Utility work could begin this winter.
Bike trail connections are considered a key part of the project. Paths will be built north to Dada Drive, linking to a village system that connects with Rollins Savanna, and east to the Washington Street path, connecting to the Des Plaines River Trail, which runs the length of Lake County from north to south.
Emde describes the segments as "pretty crucial connections" to eventually extend trail access to the west.
"This is a big part of the vision," Casbon said.