Route 120 improvement plans move along

Published: 5/22/2009 12:01 AM

Plans for improving Illinois Route 120 in central Lake County are taking shape.

Although construction is still several years away, the Route 120 Corridor Planning Council successfully determined the preferred roadway alignment during a governance board meeting Wednesday.

The proposed bypass route would alleviate congestion along Route 120 by separating local Grayslake traffic and regional commuter traffic between Fish Lake Road in Volo to the west and Almond Road in Warren Township to the east.

The recent decisions are the final step in the council's feasibility study, which sets the table for more detailed land surveys by the Illinois Department of Transportation set to begin this fall.

"The study is moving forward on schedule," said Jeff Hall, manager of the project's consulting team. "We started in late summer of 2007 and we'll be wrapping it up in early fall of this year."

The council, comprised of five county board members and representatives from 11 communities along the route, reached a consensus on three critical points along the proposed bypass.

The western end of the bypass, located between Fish Lake Road and Bacon Road, would curve south of the current Route 120 and will be bordered by Lake County Forest Preserve property to the south.

Round Lake Mayor James Dietz called the decision "beneficial to the economic development" of the area.

The central section, located between Curran Boulevard and Alleghany Road, would be constructed between the current Route 120 and Townline Road.

The eastern end, located between U.S. Route 45 and Almond Road about 500 feet south of the current Route 120, would curve north of the Grayslake Public Works Building and Almond Marsh. It would then merge with 'old' Route 120 to conclude the bypass route for eastbound travelers.

Lake County Board Member Bonnie Carter was pleased that the decision avoided environmental impact on the marsh. Carter and Dietz supported motions providing options for flexibility in the roadway's placement on the eastern and western ends.

"This is a win-win decision and an example of thinking outside the box," Carter said.

No formal opposition was offered to any of the decided alignments, an encouraging sign considering that a countywide consensus is necessary in order to move forward with project planning on the state level.

Issues like right-of-way width, roadway grade, drainage basin placement and the possible inclusion of bike and bus lanes will be ironed out by IDOT land studies.

The feasibility study concludes when the project's finance strategy and implementation plan are formally presented to the public on June 10 in Round Lake.