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McDOT to fine tune Rakow Road traffic

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
New lanes on Rakow Road opened Nov. 15. Now that work is complete, McDOT will analyze traffic cycles and traffic counts to correct inefficiencies, if necessary.

CRYSTAL LAKE – With Rakow Road construction wrapped up, the county’s transportation department will analyze the road’s speed limit, traffic signals and no-turn-on-red designations.

The McHenry County Division of Transportation will make adjustments to correct inefficiencies, Assistant County Engineer Jeff Young said.

Construction on the two-year, multimillion-dollar widening project ended in November, opening all lanes to motorists, many of whom had long grumbled about bumper-to-bumper traffic and now are praising the expanded road’s capacity.

The McHenry County Division of Transportation has started counting traffic on the road during peak hours – morning, midday and evening. McDOT will use the count to analyze and evaluate the timing sequence of Rakow Road stoplights.

There may be some “disadvantages” for motorists stopped at cross-traffic lights, such as long wait times, Young said.

Officials waited to start the traffic count to establish normal traffic patterns and get an accurate read of how many people drive the expanded, $37 million road.

“During construction, a lot of people find alternate routes,” Young said. “After construction, people come back, but it may take awhile. Now they’re coming to it when maybe they haven’t [driven] on the road for a couple years.”

During peak periods, stoplights are on a timed system, but during off hours, the lights operate independently with video detection. The video detection at each stoplight are not cameras and do not record, Young said, but are more reliable than traditional road sensors.

Some motorists have objected to the road’s speed limit. The department dropped it to 45 mph before the widening project because of a congestion and crashes, Young said. The speed limit has remained the same, even though the road now is four lanes and, in some parts, six lanes.

Although it’s not unheard of to adjust speed limits, it is not in the road’s immediate future to increase the speed limit, he said. “Right now where it’s at, it’s in a good situation. That doesn’t mean it can’t change, but there really isn’t a need to change it,” Young said

The department also will look at no-turn-on-red designations at some intersections. There currently is one such classification, at McHenry Avenue turning onto Randall Road.

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