Traffic on Route 120 heading east toward Route 83 in Grayslake backs up. A group studying a major improvement for the corridor has opted for a four-lane boulevard rather than an expressway for a new road.
Paul Valade | Staff Photographer
Traffic won't move as quickly but municipal and other interests flanking Route 120 say an expressway is not the best answer.
Instead, the heads of the Route 120 Corridor Planning Council have decided a four-lane boulevard would adequately carry traffic along a 14-mile stretch from Route 12 to the Tri-State Tollway.
Whether traffic at intersections will be controlled by roundabouts, traditional signalized intersections or a combination is to be determined by early spring.
Marty Buehler, head of the Lake County Division of Transportation, described the decision as "an important milestone" in the estimated $521 million project.
The decision comes three years after county leaders decided a major project to improve east-west traffic along Route 120, which is two lanes for most of its length in the project area, was necessary.
A detailed study narrowed the road character to four options, including a seven-mile bypass of existing Route 120 through Grayslake, Hainesville and Round Lake. Such an improvement at one time was considered the north leg of a Route 53 extension.
Pursuit of that project ended several years ago because no agreement could be reached. A consensus on exactly what the Route 120 corridor project should be is regarded as essential.
Basically, the corridor council will provide the Illinois Department of Transportation with stacks of information regarding a single plan. That is expected to cut the state's study time, although construction is not expected to begin for at least six to 10 years.
The four-lane "hybrid" alternative was approved by an 11-2 vote Wednesday, with representatives from Gurnee and Volo opting for a six-lane solution.
"Although it (six-lane expressway) isn't popular, it looks more to the future than roundabouts," said Gurnee Trustee David Ohanian. "If people can get to your area more quickly, you may find more jobs coming to your community."
Alternatives were rated on 26 criteria. Information gathered for the council showed it would take 14 minutes to travel on an expressway from Route 12 to the tollway, compared with 26 minutes for the four-lane option, either with roundabouts or traffic signals.
"While moving that traffic, let's not forget the people who live along the existing Route 120 and their accessibility," said Lake County Board member Melinda Bush of Grayslake, who is new the council.
The next steps will determine specific road alignment. Buehler said that will be "probably of the most interest to the public."
How the project would be financed must also be determined, "Or all the time we're all spending at this is a complete waste," Ohanian said.