Our View: Huntley interchange a big boost

Drive anywhere in McHenry County the past few years and you likely got the impression that we’re just one big construction zone.

Live here, work here, drive around the county regularly, and it’s been one big headache.

Yes, road projects big and small have slowed commutes for tens of thousands almost daily.

While construction season is frustrating, there’s usually a significant reward at the end of each project.

Anyone who travels Rakow Road regularly will tell you how quick and easy it is to get from Route 31 to Randall Road compared with just a few years ago. The same can be said of Route 47 from Huntley south. Both of these projects were on motorists’ and public planners’ radars for well over a decade, and they’re finally done.

We now can add the new, full-access interchange at Route 47 and Interstate 90 to the list of much-needed area transportation projects completed in the past couple of years.

For the first time last week, motorists could access I-90 to the west from Route 47. Previously, motorists could access I-90 only to the east. If Huntley, Woodstock and other area residents wanted to access I-90 to travel to Rockford, Madison, Wis., or other places west, they had to drive to Route 20 or Randall Road to do so. Not anymore.

The $61 million interchange is the first project to be completed under the Illinois Tollway Authority’s $12 billion “Move Illinois” infrastructure program. The agency, state transportation department, McHenry and Kane counties and Huntley paid for it.

In addition to easing commutes, the full interchange should be an economic boon to the area. The village of Huntley has zoned 300 acres of nearby land for commercial and industrial growth. The project was well worth the money spent.

While still ongoing, Route 31 improvements when completed will make the north-south commute on the east side of McHenry County all the better.

And the Algonquin bypass, scheduled to be completed next year, will drastically improve commutes near Routes 31 and 62.

Yes, each of these projects has caused headaches for an untold number of commuters. But in just a few years time, some of the area’s biggest transportation needs will have been filled.

That’s good news for McHenry County.

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