Route 30 widening in the works
By Bob Okon email@example.com April 1, 2013 10:26PM
Traffic moves along Route 30 near Renwick Road Monday, April 1, 2013, in Plainfield. The state is planning a major widening of Route 30 from Interstate 55 into Plainfield in 2014 that would even include bike paths. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 3, 2013 6:28AM
A section of Route 30 known for long traffic backups when motorists attempt left turns will be widened, eventually giving some relief to drivers but not without a dose of short-term pain.
The improvements west of Interstate 55 in Joliet and Plainfield will include more lanes and center turn lanes.
“It will be well worth it when it’s done,” Plainfield Mayor Michael Collins said. “But it will be trying while it’s going on,”
The state has set 2014 as the start of construction. But Collins said the village has been told work could begin in late 2013.
The Joliet City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on funding its local share of the project. The work closest to I-55 includes a small section of Joliet, but most of it will be in Plainfield.
The work will extend to Illinois 59.
The job also comes not long after a Route 59 reconstruction that had downtown Plainfield bottlenecked with traffic. The widening of Route 30, however, offers a solution to a road that has become increasingly congested to the point that left turns off it create traffic back-ups because of the waits. Left turns onto the section of Route 30 can be futile in times of heavy traffic.
Route 30 narrows to two lanes just west of I-55. It will be expanded to four lanes with a center turn lane to Renwick Road. From Renwick to Route 59, the road will remain two lanes but get a center turn lane.
Collins said the road west of Renwick will remain two lanes so as not to infringe on a cemetery and on Lake Renwick, a bird habitat and nesting area.
The state is taking care not to disturb the bird habitat to the extent that construction will not occur during certain months of the year, Collins said.
The state also will add bike lanes along the improved route, creating a feature not normally seen along major highways until recently.
Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said the state has encouraged the development of bike lanes by lowering the contribution expected from local governments to fund construction costs of those lanes.
Plainfield and state officials still are discussing certain features of the project. Even with the extra lanes, turns will be restricted to one direction off Route 30 at two cross streets, Collins said, and village officials are asking IDOT to consider turns in both directions.
The Joliet City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on its contribution of $37,550 toward the multi-million dollar construction project. While Joliet has a small portion of the route, it has a big stake in making Route 30 more motorist friendly.
“It will be good for us because we get a lot of people travelling Route 30 to get to the Louis Joliet Mall,” Joliet City Manager Thomas Thanas told the council at a workshop session Monday. “We want to make it easier for them to get to the mall.”
The Louis Joliet Mall is located along Route 30 on the other side of I-55. But Joliet also has a stake in a large tract of land just west of I-55 that was to be the site of a major shopping center before the recession hit. About 20 acres of the site are in Joliet, while more than 100 acres are in Plainfield.
Thanas said the site, the former location of a truck stop, should be one of the first to develop in Joliet when retailers begin looking for new space again.