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Traffic congestion to continue at Huntley High School

Widening project along Harmony Road taking longer than expected

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 12:02 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 12:06 a.m. CDT

HUNTLEY – Students and parents could face congestion during the back-to-school commute Wednesday to Huntley High School, with an area road project designed to ease the school’s traffic problems taking longer than expected.

After setting an “ambitious” timetable last spring, Superintendent John Burkey said a $1.32 million project that widens Harmony Road near the school’s entrance likely won’t start until next week.

District 158 officials originally wanted the project finished by the start of school Wednesday after eyeing a June construction start. But engineering work between the district and county is lasting longer than planned, Burkey said.

“Do I wish it was completed? Of course I do,” he said. “But quite honestly, if we didn’t have an ambitious timeline, it would have taken longer. I would do it the same way.”

Residents have long grumbled about the congestion from Huntley High School, located on the village’s far northwest side. Harmony Road is the only thoroughfare students and parents can use to enter the school.

The widening project, a part of the broader Huntley High expansion underway since last year, will primarily create a new left turn lane along Harmony Road that diverts student traffic to a newly created parking lot, east of the school’s entrance.

School officials now think the road will be widened by October. In the meantime, traffic controllers will be on-site to help ease congestion, Burkey said.

“They still will have two lanes open during the whole widening project,” he said. “It’s going to be a construction zone, but I don’t think it will be a terrible hindrance.”

Although the road won’t be ready by Wednesday, the district worked with the county on installing temporary traffic lights this summer along Hemmer Road, which connects to Harmony Road. The controls should help traffic flow, Burkey said.

Crews also should have the main entrance renovated by the end of August, despite officials wanting it ready for the start of school. Burkey said the village permitting process took longer than planned.

Other construction on the $30.8 million high school expansion remains on schedule. Students should have access to a new weight room by October, while foundation work has begun on a new field house.

Once crews finish the field house next summer, work then starts on redesigning the library and cafeteria.

The building overhaul is meant to accommodate the 3,000 students expected at Huntley High by the end of the decade.

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