Originally published Aug. 15, 2012
The along with consulting engineers from STV, of Chicago, were on-hand Tuesday at to discuss the purpose and need for improvements to the intersection of Laraway and Cedar roads.
If the project goes as planned, construction is expected to begin in 2014, according to John Clark, of STV.
During the open house format, Christine Kupkowski, project manager for Will County Department of Highways, laid out a map of the area and addressed the variety of improvements that are meant to accommodate an anticipated 60,000 residents in New Lenox over the next 20 years. Despite diminished construction and home building over the past few years, she said the growth has been forecast by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning in its 2040 plan.
Demographics and statistics gathered from as far back as the early 1950s have shaped the CMAP 2040 plan, which has projected accurate forecasts that account for periods of slow growth, she said.
In New Lenox, Phase I, the initial study and evaluation of needs, resulted in findings for a $7.5 million project. The initial study is nearly complete. It calls for right-of-way acquisition from seven property owners, totaling 5.44 acres and temporary easements. The total project length is merely 1.1 miles, about half-a-mile on Laraway Road and the same on Cedar Road, said Clark.
The goal of the study, said Kupkowski, is to "determine improvements that will reduce congestion, improve mobility and improve safety."
While commuter railroad use, car pooling and remote work places are anticipated to increase significantly, traffic congestion for even local movement is expected to grow exponentially. Taking into consideration comprehensive plans that include anticipated commercial and residential development, "traffic volumes within the corridor are projected to increase between 77-130 percent over the next 20 years."
Overlooking a map of the intersection, she said the plan calls for additional "lanes and dedicated turn lanes to help alleviate the congestion, improve traffic flow and reduce the number of accidents."
Jean-Alix Peralte, of STV, said the history of traffic accidents in this area require a reduction in speed. At present, traffic along Laraway Road is set at 40 mph, but it is up to 55 mph on Cedar Road. Ultimately, the plan sees fit to slow the northbound and southbound traffic on Cedar Road. Approaching the intersection, traffic on Cedar Road will be slowed gradually from 55 mph to 45 mph and finally to 40 mph.
"That lower speed should help" reduce the number of accidents, he said.
The proposed improvements include traffic signal installation, an additional travel lane along both roads, dual left and single right turn lanes along Laraway Road, and single left and right turn lanes along Cedar Road.
In addition, curbs and gutters will be installed adjacent to the travel lanes. A concrete median separating opposing lanes along Laraway Road is included as well.
In keeping with the CMAP 2040 ideals for a healthy community, the Laraway and Cedar roads improvement project calls for a right-of-way for a future bike path too.
Peering over the plan, , questioned county officials about the possibility of adding landscaping on a broad median area to make the area more attractive. Some landscaping options are available, said Kupkowski, as long as they far enough away from the railroad tracks.
Other concerns pertained to lighting in the area. Kupkowski said the county would foot the bill for alert lighting; however, the village would be responsible for street light installation.
Clark offered insights about the installation of storm sewers and roadside drainage ditches. Since the area is flat, it needs only traditional drainage ditches with natural prairie plants to hold rainwater runoff, prevent roadway flooding and erosion.
The WCDH will accept comments for inclusion in the project report until Sept. 14. Comments can be sent to: Will County Department of Highways, 16841 W. Laraway Road, Joliet, IL 60433 or send emails to: email@example.com.
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