JOLIET – Road construction headaches this year at Essington and Caton Farm roads in Joliet should lead in the long run to more peace of mind for motorists.
The City Council on Tuesday is expected to vote on the acquisition of the last parcels needed to expand the intersection and add new traffic lights.
Most of the $2 million project is expected to be completed this year. Federal funds will cover 80 percent of the costs.
Public Works Director James Trizna told the council at a workshop meeting Monday that the project will involve lane closures but the intersection will remain open.
"There will be times you may have a lane closed due to construction," Trizna said. "But we will not have to have a detour."
The construction is likely to lead to traffic delays, however, since the improvements are aimed at relieving backups already occurring at the intersection.
Also, the city this year will replace the Caton Farm Road bridge west of Interstate 55. Both projects will take place at the same time, meaning driving on Caton Farm Road is likely to be challenging in 2016.
The bridge is expected to start in March and run through Thanksgiving. The intersection project is expected to start in summer and end by Thanksgiving.
The intersection improvements include:
• A new right-turn lane on southbound Essington Road for vehicles turning west onto Caton Farm Road
• A new right-turn lane on eastbound Caton Farm Road for traffic turning south onto Essington Road
• Lengthening the left-turn lane on eastbound Caton Farm Road for traffic turning north onto Essington Road, which will accommodate more cars headed to the nearby Louis Joliet Mall.
Trizna said the improvements are engineered to relieve backups that occur now so traffic will flow more smoothly through the intersection.
Councilman John Gerl said the added right-turn lane on southbound Essington Road should make driving easier for mall customers.
"I think what this is going to do a lot for is those people coming out of the mall making that right turn. That gets way backed up," Gerl said.
Trizna said the intersection expansion is not expected to make much difference for mall access. But he did say that improvements made a few years ago at the intersection of Essington Road and Hennepin Drive have made it easier to get into the mall, although traffic still gets congested during the holiday shopping season.
"Most times of the year, except for the Christmas rush, that intersection works very well," he said.
The council Tuesday will vote on appropriations for $1.8 million in construction costs and nearly $250,000 in engineering costs, 80 percent of which will be covered by federal grants, Trizna said.
The three parcels of property that would be acquired if approved Tuesday mark the last of 13 parcels to be acquired for the project. The cost of the three parcels is $190,150, which would put the total cost of land acquisition at about $240,000, Trizna said.