Route 120, 31 construction heads into next stretch in McHenry

McHENRY – Drivers will shift to the newly paved lanes of Route 120 and Route 31 about midway through next week, the project’s engineer said.

The shift ends the first – and largest – stage of $7 million worth of improvements to the busy McHenry stretch.

Most of the new storm sewers have been installed, and the existing bridge over Boone Creek has been replaced with a wider structure, said Kevin Berry, a construction engineer with HR Green. The work represents about 40 percent of the project budget.

The next phases includes tearing out the roadway drivers have been using and replacing it, Berry said.

The end product will be a widened corridor through central McHenry with Route 31 north of 120 expanded to five lanes to match the section north of Washington Street. New traffic signals will be installed at three intersections, Route 120 and Route 31, Route 120 and Green Street, and Route 31 and Pearl Street, along with new street lighting.

“It will be beautiful once it’s done,” said Kim Huber, owner of Hair For You.

The spa and salon sits at the corner of Route 120 and Court Street, but construction has had a minimal effect on business, Huber said.

“They’ve been routing as best they can,” she said. “I think everyone’s been coping pretty well.”

Crews have been trying to maintain access to the businesses at all times and have posted driveway signs at the entrances to each businesses, Berry said.

He’s also stopped by on a weekly or monthly basis to check in with business owners.

And things have gotten better, McHenry Pet Central co-owner Darius Pfeifer said, adding the signage has really helped.

He’s worried about the next stage, however, which involves ripping up the roadway in front of his business.

“July was really, really a struggle, but now it seems like things are moving along at a faster pace,” he said. “The next phase is the phase I’m most concerned about.”

To help bring in business, McHenry Pet Central, 3743 W. Elm St., is hosting dog rescue events each weekend and offering buy-one-get-one sales on tropical fish, things Pfeifer said he wouldn’t normally do. He’s been taking advantage of the store’s Facebook page to promote the events.

The work still is set to wrap up at its projected end date in November of this year, Berry said.

Updates and a sign-up for email notifications are available on the project’s website at www.mchenry120and31.com.

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