McHenry County transportation officials are set to begin work to widen Randall Road in 2018, a project that could cost an estimated $97 million by the time it is finished.
The project has been broken into two parts. The first part, where work will begin as soon as January with utility relocation, will be from Harnish Drive in Algonquin north to the intersection of Polaris Drive and Acorn Lane in Lake in the Hills. The road will be widened to three lanes of traffic in each direction, and some of the right-in, right-out curb cuts in the area will be closed.
Also included in the work will be adding capacity at the Algonquin Road intersection, a notorious chokepoint.
Although road construction can be an inconvenience for drivers and businesses, in the long run, the project will benefit drivers and businesses alike. Of the $41.6 million the county estimates it will spend on the project between 2018 and 2020, almost half – or $20.5 million – will be from federal transportation grant funds, with the rest coming from RTA sales tax, motor fuel taxes and matching funds collected by McHenry County.
Historically, the county’s transportation network has struggled to keep up with the population in the southeastern part of the county, but there have been significant strides made over the past two decades. Millions have been spent to increase capacity on Rakow Road and Route 31, and the bypass around downtown Algonquin also has reduced the hours cars have spent idling.
Although the full-access interchange at Route 47 in Kane County has proved useful, much of McHenry County’s most populous area lacks convenient access to interstate highways. If the county is to stabilize its population and once again begin to grow, it’s critical that drivers be able to enter and exit the area easily.
The Randall project is another important step in that direction. When completed in its full scope, from Harnish all the way north to Ackman Road in Crystal Lake, Randall and Rakow roads should be a high-capacity thoroughfare capable of moving vehicles from Route 31 all the way out of the county.
It won’t eliminate traffic backups entirely – vehicles have a tendency to fill the pavement provided for them – but it should lead to improved traffic flow and less stressful travel, which will not only make life easier but also make people more willing to visit stores and other attractions in the area.
We hope that construction can be carried out with minimal inconvenience to the public. However, the ultimate public benefit of this project, along with the federal funds that have been allocated to defray the cost, should ultimately deliver a substantial benefit in the long run.