January 19, 2011

Huge Route 20-McLean project on way

Published Jan. 19, 2011
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
If you've driven through the McLean Boulevard and Route 20 intersection during the busier times of day, you know how congested traffic can get there.

Vehicles exiting Route 20 from the east and west try to mix in with north and south traffic on McLean, even as some of those drivers are trying to get onto the highway themselves. The intersections at this crossroads involves two sets of traffic lights – one at Weld Road, immediately south of 20, and at the westbound 20 exit ramp just north of the highway overpass.

Throw in another set of traffic lights to the north, at Lillian Street, and yet another to the south at Fleetwood Drive, and you have set the stage for a perfect storm of sorts in terms of a rush-hour bottleneck.

That will all change by 2013 as the Illinois Department of Transportation embarks this year on a massive reconstruction of that intersection from the diamond configuration that exists now to one that highway officials and planners call a single-point urban interchange – SPUI for short.

Elgin Public Services Director David Lawry said Wednesday the $53.9 million IDOT project is gearing up for construction in 2012, and that the state agency is already in the midst of obtaining easements for property around the intersection that will be needed for the work.

This is no simple repaving project. IDOT Communications Manager Guy Tridgell said the project will involve a massive reconstruction of the entire intersection to include:
  • Replacing and widening Route 20 over McLean Boulevard. Two exit ramps will be added on eastbound Route 20 to facilitate and enhance exiting on to McLean.
  • Construction of three concrete retaining walls.
  • Reconstruction and widening of McLean Boulevard to a four-lane, divided roadway from south of Fleetwood Drive to north of Lillian Street, with turn lanes at all major intersections.
  • Realigning Weld Road's intersection with Shepherd Drive to remove the existing sharp curve.
  • Reconstruction and widening of the Fleetwood Drive intersection.
  • Modernizing and synchronizing traffic signals at Fleetwood Drive, Route 20 ramps with McLean Boulevard, and Lillian Street to enhance traffic flow.
  • The addition of shared bike path on both sides of McLean Boulevard.
(Via Wikimedia Commons)

Tridgell said the work will be done in stages so McLean Boulevard and Route 20 are open at all times, although lane closures should be expected.
Lawry said the preliminary design of the project was done in 2005, and carries a price tag of about $53.9 million. According to Tridgell, that funding was secured in 2009 through Gov. Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! capital program.
Tridgell said significant advance work involving the retaining walls and bridge structures will start later this year. But the interchange reconstruction won't really get under way until 2012, and is expected to last two full construction seasons.