When Will the Western Bypass Be Completed?
Construction on the long-awaited Western Bypass, conceived of in the late ‘90s, will finally be underway in 2011.
Later this year, passersby will get to see progress being made on the long-awaited Western Bypass with their own two eyes.
Construction on the $70 million project that was conceived of 15 years ago will finally begin, although the public shouldn’t expect to see curb and gutter and other kinds of roadway progress until 2012.
The Western Bypass in its final form will run along the west side of the current Illinois Route 31 from Rakow Road, will cut through Towne Park, and come back to 31 at Huntington Drive. It will include the reconstruction and widening of portions of Illinois Route 31.
“The premise of this is to improve traffic in the area,” said Gary Blazek, the project manager from Civiltech Engineering. “So that the timing of the signal is going to be different, it is going to allow more green time on Route 62 because Route 31 wont need it because it is going to be an overpass.”
In order to construct the Western Bypass, there were five major contracts that had to be filled.
The contract for the removal of hazardous materials from the Toastmaster site has already been awarded and is being worked on. The village of Algonquin’s has been working closely with the contractor hired to remove debris from the site of the torn down Toastmaster building to disconnect the utilities.
The second contract, which would have been for the removal of the Toastmaster building, was dismissed due to the fire that destroyed the building last October.
The third is slated to open for bids this week, which will include the demolition of three more buildings in the way of the future Illinois Route 31, according to Wally Dittrich, design manager for McHenry County Division of Transportation.
Since the final plans for the bypass include a full diamond interchange at Algonquin Road, just east of the post office, the buildings east of the post office will be removed, Dittrich said. This also includes the removal of the Algonquin Roadhouse and anything else east of that building.
But the fourth and $12.2 million mass-grading contract that was scheduled to open for bids in March has already been pushed back to April. The mass-grading work will take place north of Algonquin Road, just behind the soon-to-be torn down Algonquin Roadhouse and extend up through the Meyer gravel pit.
Although most of the work on that contract will be done out of the public visibility, it plays an important role in getting the land prepped for actual roadwork.
Blazek said he anticipates work on that contract to start sometime this summer or fall.
“They’ll have a bunch of big scrapers and earth moving machinery around there, they’re going to be moving material,” Blazek said. “They’re going to cut a lot of that hill out and move that material to get it ready for the roadway contract.”
While much of the project’s planning is done, construction on the actual roadway remains to be seen and is in the hands of the Illinois Department of Transportation. While McHenry County is the lead on the project’s design, the state has the lead on the actual construction of the bypass.
As of November 2010, Blazek said that Civiltech Engineering had submitted preliminary design plans to IDOT for what’s called the roadway contract. This contract involves the building of the actual road, putting the bridges in and any utility work that needs to be done.
“That won’t happen until probably a year from now,” Blazek said, “or more likely 2012.”
Guy Tridgell, spokesman for IDOT, said the project is being funded by Illinois Jobs Now!, a state capital construction program that Gov. Quinn signed into law July 2009. According to the Illinois Jobs Now! website, the campaign is a $31 billion, 6-year state capital program designed to retain jobs.
Currently, to deal with traffic congestion, William Ganek, Algonquin village manager, said the village gives long green lights given to both directions of traffic at the intersection, but there is a slightly longer green light for the traffic running east to west on Algonquin Road.
The Algonquin Western Bypass project was birthed in 1996 when McHenry County and the IDOT conducted an $800,000 study to come up with solutions to ease congestion at Illinois Route 62 and Illinois Route 31 intersection.
The study examined the traffic that passes through the southeastern corner of McHenry County—or the communities of Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Cary and Crystal Lake.
After its completion in 1997, the McHenry Transportation Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend a western bypass as the best solution to traffic congestion in downtown Algonquin.
Later that year, the Algonquin village board voted 5-2 in favor of the western bypass, rather than recommending the alternative northern bypass. The McHenry County Transportation Advisory Committee formally endorsed it in early 1998.
Some people liked the idea of a northern bypass to get traffic moving over the Fox River, but proponents of the Western Bypass said it would provide the most capacity to handle traffic and would have the least impact on the communities involved.
Vehicles are expected to be able to drive on the bypass by the end of 2013 or early 2014.