Officials on Tuesday approved an engineering contract involved in what could become the largest highway project ever undertaken by the Lake County Division of Transportation.
The $243,315 agreement with Itasca’s Civiltech Engineering, authorized by the Lake County Board, involves the ongoing evaluation of the Old McHenry Crossings improvement project in the Hawthorn Woods/Lake Zurich area.
Old McHenry Road from Abbey Glenn Drive to Bonnie Lane and Quentin Road from Old McHenry Road to Highway 22 are being assessed for widening, connecting paths to regional trails and destinations and improving at three close intersections.
The main element would be an underpass or overpass, called a grade jump, over the Canadian National railway lines between the Midlothian and Quentin roads.
County officials said 18 to 22 freight trains a day, about 2 miles long, cause frequent delays. Intersection improvements combined with grade separation would improve traffic flow and safety throughout the area, officials said.
A detailed map and description are available at omxproject.com/.
Integrating all the elements into a project of this magnitude would likely exceed $100 million in construction contracts, said Shane Schneider, county engineer and transportation manager.
What is called a phase 1 study has been underway for about 18 months and is accelerating. In mid-February, the stakeholder engagement group at its second meeting discussed the purpose and need for the project, which is the foundation for the rest of the Phase 1 study, according to project manager Chuck Gleason. for LCDOT.
Early meetings were more formalities in the planning process, Gleason said. But that will change to more “meat and potatoes” at the next meeting scheduled for May as the group begins to search for alternatives along the halls, Gleason said.
County Council in April 2021 approved a $6.17 million contract for Phase 1 planning with TransSystems Corp. from Schaumburg. Civiltech was hired due to the size and scope of the project, which involves approximately 2 miles on Old McHenry Road and 1.4 miles on Quentin Road.
Gleason said LCDOT knew from the start that reviewing documents submitted by TransSystems would be labor intensive. Due to the scale of this project and all the other projects under internal review, a separate company to provide quality control is needed, he said.
“This will not only help our internal staff, but also provide quick review responses” on the project, Gleason said.
The county is covering the cost of Phase 1 engineering and has secured $12 million in rail safety funding from the Illinois Commerce Commission and an additional $4 million in state funding, Schneider said. .
Preparing for studies is essential to obtaining federal funding.
“We know there will be dozens of other discretionary grant programs,” Schneider said during a recent Civiltech contract discussion. “There aren’t many details yet, but it’s something we’re watching very closely.”
Gleason said the LCDOT is targeting a full or partial construction date of 2025 for the entire study area.
“It’s an aggressive schedule, and time is running out,” he said.