ALGONQUIN – Workers tested traffic signals Wednesday to make sure they function properly. Others checked that lane markers were set, road joints sealed and that water would run off properly. Some workers cleared off the deck of a bridge and cut grooves to prevent hydroplaning.
Workers are putting the final touches on the $33.3 million Algonquin Western Bypass project that is more than 90 percent complete. The road is scheduled to open next week.
When including all of the necessary land acquisition and other prep work, the project is estimated to have cost $88 million.
Engineers hope to open the road mid morning after rush hour. There won’t be any ceremony, just workers moving barricades, said Mark Mikrut, an engineer for EXP, a consultant for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“It will be a matter of minutes,” Mikrut said.
Even after the road opens, work will continue on landscaping, which has to take place in the fall, and decorative lattice work on the bridges, said Troy Wanket, resident engineer for IDOT.
About 30,000 vehicles a day travel on Route 31 through Algonquin, Mikrut said.
The 2.11-mile road is lined with street lights to illuminate the road around downtown Algonquin.
There is a diamond interchange where the bypass intersects with Route 62, which is similar to the Route 14/Route 31 interchange.
When motorists begin driving on the bypass, they will see long lanes toward the exit ramps to Route 62.
People will be able to turn east or west onto Algonquin Road when they go down the exit ramps from the bypass, on the right side of each direction of travel.
There are two ramps that will come up from Algonquin Road and that will allow drivers to merge onto the bypass. There is a lot of time for people to accelerate onto the road, Mikrut said.
When people drive south on the bypass and come to the end of the new road there are three lanes. The right turn lane takes people onto Huntington Drive. The left turn lane takes people north on Main street. The center lane keeps drivers on southbound Route 31.
For northbound drivers at the north end of the road, turning right will take them toward downtown Algonquin, rather than staying on Route 31.
For the project to take place, Six buildings had to be demolished, and there was a mass grading of land. There are tree lines on either side of the road that previously connected. About 100 feet of the tree line had to be cut down, Mikrut said.
The speed limit on the road will be 45 mph on the northern end, and slow down to 40 mph and then to 35 mph on the southern end back toward Main Street and into the downtown area.
The road includes bridges over Crystal Creek and a bike path for the McHenry County Conservation District. A fourth bridge goes over Route 62.
Pavement on the road is meant to last 30 years, and the bridges are meant to last 75 years, Mikrut said.
Workers are finishing a parking lot with more than 100 spaces that will serve Towne Park. The parking lot will be completed in a couple of weeks.
The new road is meant to divert through-traffic away from downtown Algonquin and help cut down travel time for motorists. Sometimes rush hour could lead to 20- to 30-minute commute through downtown, Mikrut said.
It is rare for IDOT to completely build a new road. Most of the time, the agency is rebuilding or resurfacing existing roads.
“It is nice working on something new, instead of a reconstruction,” Mikrut said.