Road work everywhere

Pam Monson

Projects will tie up traffic going north, east and west

    The state’s fifth season, construction season, officially began this week, and Wilmington residents can expect to run into construction zones on nearly all routes heading into or out of town.
    The Union Pacific Railroad and Illinois Department of Transportation are moving on local High Speed Rail projects that will impact crossings at local roads and state and county thoroughfares, the city has two traffic light projects pending, and the Will County Highway Department will tear into a Kankakee River bridge.

High Speed Rail
    Two Illinois High Speed Rail projects will dominate local roads this season; the addition of a second track through all local crossings and the reconstruction of the railroad bridges over Forked Creek and the Kankakee River to accommodate the second track.
    The additional rail line will provide a siding for slower-moving freight trains to get out of the way of the high speed passenger trains that will travel between Chicago and St. Louis, MO, at up to 110 miles per hour, reducing the length of the trip by one hour. Safety features are being added to approximately 150 crossings along the route.
    The crossings at North (New) River Road, Kankakee River Drive, Kankakee Street, First Street, Stripmine Road and Coal City Road will be improved with quad gates and fencing. IDOT will be making pavement adjustments and adding traffic signals at the Stripmine Road and Coal City Road intersections in conjunction with the High Speed Rail projects.
    Stripmine Road is the first to start. IDOT closed the road between Davy Lane and Baltimore Street Friday. Wilmington city engineer Colby Zemaitis said the segment cannot reopen until the traffic signals are installed and operational. IDOT plans to have the work done within three months.
    The city has been adamant that the crossings at Stripmine Road and Coal City Road not be closed at the same time.
    “That was part of the deal,” Zemaitis said.
    Daily lane closures will continue to take place on Route 53, as needed. The closures will reduce the roadway to one lane with flaggers while construction activities are in progress. Route 53 traffic will be shifted to temporary pavement.
    The detour — A posted detour will direct westbound traffic on Stripmine Road to go south on Route 53, west on Coal City Road and north on Route 129 to meet back with Stripmine Road. Eastbound Stripmine Road traffic will take the reverse route.
    Vegetation clearing for the Union Pacific’s bridge projects, contracted to Illinois Constructors Corp. (ICC), began late last month. ICC will be building new piers, at different locations, for each structure. The existing tracks will be shifted north and the bridge decks will be expanded to accommodate a second track. The work will require ICC to build temporary bridges to accommodate rail traffic during construction.
    The High Speed Rail work will require the relocation or modification of nine city water or sewer mains. The city has asked for assurances that if the state funding for the infrastructure work is not available, that the city will not be financially responsible for it. Signed agreements to that effect have not yet been returned to the city.
    The High Speed Rail projects are slated for completion by the end of the year, with the exception of the Kankakee River bridge, which is an 18-month project. The reconstruction of the Kankakee Street crossing, which will be raised 6 feet, will not begin until next summer, Zemaitis said.
    When the crossing improvements are completed, the city can apply for a rail quiet zone, so trains will not have to sound their whistles as they approach each crossing.

EDP-funded traffic controls
    The city of Wilmington has state controlled Economic Development Program funds bankrolled for improvements at the Route 53 intersections with Peotone Road and South Arsenal Road. Both projects include additional lanes and traffic signal improvements.
    In addition to the installation of permanent traffic signals, the South Arsenal Road intersection improvement includes a left turn lane from southbound Route 53 and right and left turn lanes from South Arsenal Road. Austin Tyler, the contractor awarded the project, is just waiting for confirmation from project engineer ESI that any wetland permits or permit waivers necessary for a culvert crossing have been received.
    Zemaitis had a phone conference Tuesday with IDOT concerning EDP funds for Peotone Road. The city would like to use all funds that are available to cover its share of the project costs. The engineer said some projects that were done or were to be done with EDP funds were canceled because they were no longer needed, or may not have used all the funds that were available. The city would like to redirect those funds to the intersection. The project includes turn lanes from Peotone Road and traffic signal updates.

Route 113
     The village of Diamond’s Route 113 reconstruction project will widen the state highway from the entrance of Sunshine Garden Center east to Frontage Road allowing for the installation of a center turn lane. The project will include the extension of a bike path on the north side of the road and drainage improvements.
    Eighty percent of the $1.4 million reconstruction project cost is being funded in part through a federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) grant administered through the Will County Governmental League. The village of Diamond and adjoining property owners will pay the remainder.
    The $1.4 million construction project will be completed by D Construction by mid-October.
    The detour — Take Will Road south to Reed Road where motorists can access Interstate 55.

Bridge-County Line Road AKA Will Road
    The Will County Highway Department plans to move forward with improvements to the County Line Road (Will Road) bridge over the Kankakee River, near Phelan Acres. The road closure began Saturday, April 1. Traffic signals will govern the passage of a single lane of traffic over the bridge for the duration of the project, which has an estimated completion date of Nov. 30.
    The $2.6 million project consists of replacing the bridge deck, guardrail improvements, substructure repairs, slopewall repairs, re-decking of the structure, steel painting and the extension of wingwalls. The bridge is just under 1,200 feet long. D Construction was awarded the project bid in December.
    The detour — From Will Road at Pine Bluff Road, take Pine Bluff/Lorenzo Road east to Interstate 55 north, follow I-55 north to Arsenal Road, turn left at the stop light onto west Frontage Road (marked I-55 south), turn right onto Frontage Road after one mile — do not re-enter I-55 — take Frontage Road south to Blodgett Road, take Blodgett Road west to reconnect with Will Road.
    The Wilmington Fire Protection District is working with neighboring departments to ensure there will be minimal impacts on emergency services responses related to the road work projects.
    Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through all of these construction areas. Drivers are urged to pay close attention to flaggers and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits and be on the alert for workers and equipment.