With a number of big-ticket road projects finished last year, McHenry County is embarking on another year of long-desired improvements.
With the rush-hour nightmare of Rakow Road now just a bad memory, work has started in earnest to eliminate the equally notorious Route 31-62 gridlock in downtown Algonquin by rerouting Route 31. Work to make the Route 47 and Interstate 90 interchange a full one should finish this year.
And for the residents of rural Fleming Road, they will get a new road while preserving their scenic view after waging a yearslong campaign against a McHenry County plan they say would have destroyed it.
It took at least 16 years of planning, lobbying and good old-fashioned begging to get the funds to get the long-awaited Algonquin Western Bypass started.
Work began late last year on the bypass, a $33.3 million project to build a 2.1-mile, four-lane highway west of downtown Algonquin. The congestion-relieving project also includes an interchange, four new bridges and noise abatement walls. The project is expected to be finished in August 2014.
Work also began last year on the county’s most significant project, even though it is located just over the line in Kane County – a full I-90 interchange.
The $69 million project by the Illinois Department of Transportation is now expected to be finished in November. It started just after the county wrapped up a two-year project to widen Route 47 to four lanes through much of Huntley.
The interchange project already is reaping economic benefits for Huntley. A Hampshire-based manufacturer cited proximity to a full interchange when it announced in April that it was moving part of its operations to the former Dean Foods building.
Work also is scheduled to start at the end of the month on a $4.17 million project to extend Kreutzer Road in Huntley west from Route 47 to Main Street.
A great big project was precisely what the residents of picturesque but crumbling Fleming Road wanted to avoid.
Residents spent more than two years fighting a county plan to improve the road that, between a wider road and much larger easements, would have done away with a lot of the scenery, flower beds and 200-year-old trees.
The solution came earlier this year when IDOT formally approved a new technique that allows for the grinding up of the old road as building material for the new one, with no need for widening or expansion.
The 2 1/2-mile road through Bull Valley is closed to through traffic for the construction that began earlier this month. The $830,000 project is expected to be finished by the end of July, weather permitting.
Another major project of note is the widening of the Charles Miller Road bridge over the Fox River in McHenry to a four-lane span by adding another two-lane bridge, as well as improving the intersection of Miller and River roads. The $12 million project is scheduled for a late October completion.
A second phase to start next year will widen Miller Road west to Route 31.