‘The end’ in sight as Rakow Road is rededicated

CRYSTAL LAKE – Although it’s still at least a month before orange construction barrels come down and all lanes open on Rakow Road, county transportation officials Tuesday “rededicated” the road to business owners and drivers who have been running low on patience as construction rolls along.

Work on the three-mile widening project began two years ago and is scheduled to be complete by Nov. 30.

The finishing touches, including asphalt paving, traffic signal installation, landscaping and pavement marking will continue in November along Rakow and its side streets.

Construction totaled $26.5 million, but the total project amounted to $37 million when land acquisition, engineering and other related costs are factored in. About $6 million came from a federal transportation grant, and $750,000 from a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant.

When completed, Rakow Road will have six lanes between Pyott and Ackman roads and four lanes from Pyott Road to Route 31. Besides increased capacity, McHenry County Division of Transportation officials cited the road’s dual turn lanes, additional lighting and a pedestrian bridge that connects the McHenry County Prairie Trail.

“Today is an example of when policymakers get together and come to an agreement on what we need to get done,” state Rep. Mike Tryon said.

Rakow Road has come a long way from its first ribbon-cutting ceremony in 1993.

In the early 90s, Rakow Road was seen as a critical connection between Route 31 and Randall Road. In those days, motorists had to use McHenry Avenue or Route 14 to get to Route 31 headed north.

“Imagine doing that today – 40,000 cars using McHenry Avenue and Route 14,” Assistant County Engineer Jeff Young said Tuesday. “Imagine what it would do to those roads.”

They called it “the road Jim Rakow built.” Just be sure to pronounce it correctly. Rakow’s widow and McHenry County Recorder Phyllis Walters spoke at Tuesday morning’s ceremony. She gets more upset than her late husband ever did at the common mispronunciation. It’s pronounced ray-co, she said.

“He always said, ‘I’ve been called worse,’ ” Walters said, laughing.

Rakow was a longtime county engineer who was instrumental in getting the road built, despite a loud public outcry from neighbors who felt intruded upon. He told his wife that getting the road built was “the most frustrating experience of my life,” she said.

“I believe he ... is looking down smiling, and saying, ‘you got it done,’ ”
Walters said.