Route 14 widening project approaching delayed start date

WOODSTOCK – Construction to widen Route 14 between Crystal Lake and Woodstock could begin this summer, about a year after the Illinois Department of Transportation had originally planned to break ground.

IDOT designed the project in two parts, with one widening the congested, two-lane stretch of highway from Lucas Road, near McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, to West Lake Shore Drive in Woodstock, where the highway currently breaks to four lanes. The other extends the widening from Lucas Road to Crystal Lake Avenue in Crystal Lake.

When completed, the highway will have five lanes – two each way, plus a median that will open to a turn lane when necessary.

The project will take an estimated year and a half to complete, although much of the time frame depends on weather conditions, Woodstock City Engineer Al Wilson said.

In addition to clearing up traffic congestion, city officials are optimistic that the project will equate to economic development down the road.

“It basically helps the traffic flow into and out of town, and with that, hopefully it will spur some development along that section of roadway improvement,” Wilson said.

In particular, he added that improvements at high-volume intersections at Doty Road and West Lake Shore Drive will help.

City officials in Crystal Lake were equally excited for the road widening to take shape.

“It’s a big deal. It’s probably been in the works for 15, 20 years,” Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley said at the annual State of the City address. “That’s going to be nice. It’s going to keep people moving, and you won’t have to worry about that merge when you’re heading west.”

The IDOT project had been scheduled to kick off in summer 2012, but it hit snags along the way.

“We’ve been told, basically, it’s issues in acquiring right of way – easement and right of way,” Wilson said.

Woodstock sold 2.5 acres of land northeast of Route 14 and north of Doty Road to IDOT toward the end of 2011, receiving $116,000 in the transaction.

The city will be responsible for moving utilities along Route 14 from West Lake Shore Drive to the city limits at Lily Pond Road. Officials estimated $100,000 for the project in Woodstock’s recent five-year capital improvement plan, but the actual cost is still to be determined.

Officials at last week’s City Council meeting said IDOT plans to begin letting this spring.

Once construction is under way, Wilson doesn’t expect extensive traffic delays.

“There’s nothing really unusual there,” he said. “They can reroute traffic as necessary. I don’t think you’ll see periods where traffic is backed up [for] minutes waiting for something to happen.”

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