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$9.6M IDOT Project Alleviates Accident-Prone Area

Sat April 15, 2000 - Midwest Edition
Lisa Hendricks

Road work. You can’t escape it. It’s everywhere these days, especially throughout Illinois.

The road construction and improvements currently under way in Illinois are undertaken for some very important reasons.

Take the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) project in Elgin, for instance. The area being worked on is fairly congested. The stretch of road in question is only one lane each way, and is lined by businesses and residential areas. There are no turning lanes.

Work under way is estimated at $9.6 million and is taking place on IL Route 19 from IL Route 25 to Schaumburg Road. IDOT describes the project as pavement reconstruction, bridge replacement, and watermain and traffic signal modernization.

Ed Wilson is the area programmer for IDOT’s District Office that oversees this construction. He explained that there are several factors that enter into the equation when determining the need for roadwork and scheduling it. “In this case, there are sight line problems throughout the area, and it has been identified as a high accident location. In addition, the condition of the roadway surface has been designated as poor to fair,” Wilson said

While snow blanketed the ground earlier this year, actual pavement work was halted. Luckily, that doesn’t slow down the entire project. Although weather conditions weren’t ideal for road construction, crews continued to work on the bridge replacement. The small bridge over Poplar Creek on IL 19 near Campus Drive (a dead-end cul-de-sac) is being completely torn down and rebuilt. Bridge contractor Lorig Construction is overseeing this portion of the work.

Scott Soderstrom is IDOT’s resident engineer for the project. He indicated that the roadway is still open, with some continued delays, lane closures and flaggers at various locations. Soderstrom said that the project is proceeding on schedule and there are no anticipated lags.

Other than the snow and extreme cold, there are other challenges associated with a project of this kind “The biggest challenge here,” explained Soderstrom, “is conflicts with underground utilities and watermains. We have to do a lot of digging, exposing and searching to determine where the utilities are buried and avoid any problems.” Soderstrom further explained that if conflicts are found, crews have to figure out how to re-engineer the project and resolve them before they become problems. In some cases, underground utility problems can require a complete project redesign if they are not discovered early enough. Luckily, that’s not the case with this project.

Once work on the road resumes again, it will involve laying down a sub-base stone and concrete, and in some areas asphalt overlay. Although specific numbers were not available, Soderstrom indicated that the project will utilize thousands of metric tons of asphalt and concrete. When finally completed, IL 19 will consist of three lanes — one lane each way and a median turning lane for both directions.

This will certainly alleviate much of the congestion the area has dealt with in the past. According to IDOT, this stretch of road carries 12,000 vehicles per day and 29,900 where it meets Barrington Road. Ed Lawdensky is an Elgin resident whose home is very near the road and bridge work. He agreed that there is a high level of congestion and a great deal of accidents in the area “Hopefully these improvements will make a difference and help with some of the issues drivers in this area deal with,” Lawdensky said.

When asked if the construction was posing a problem given the proximity to his home, he responded, “No, I wouldn’t say it’s a problem. What’s going on here is normal for any type of construction project. For me, it’s just the noise — I work a late shift and when I come home and want to get some sleep, it sure is loud around here,” he said.

Lawdensky feels that he can’t complain since the improvements really are needed, but that he will be glad when the work is done. That sentiment was echoed by an employee of a car dealership located on IL 19 who said, “Tell them to hurry up.” Work on the project began in May 1999 and is expected to conclude some time in July 2000.

Although motorists, area residents and local businesses will all be relieved when things are back to normal, most think that the disruptions are worth the hassle if the outcome is improved sight lines, less car accidents and a safer, better road for everyone.

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