Cain: Blimey, Will County interchange design is veering left
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain On Businessemail@example.com June 14, 2013 9:48PM
A state Department of Transportation diagram of a diverging diamond interchange, which has been proposed at Interstate 55 and Weber Road | Supplied illustration from the Will County Highway Department
Updated: July 17, 2013 6:56AM
Motorists who travel through the Interstate 55-Weber Road interchange may someday feel as though they’ve been transported to jolly old England.
A plan in the works would transform the clogged intersection into a diverging diamond interchange, or DDI as engineers call it, which will force motorists to drive on the left side of the road.
“If you’re going northbound, you will move over to the southbound direction,” Will County engineer Bruce Gould said. “So you’d be going northbound on the right side, and then you’ll switch over to the left side of the road and then come back once you are over (I-55). There will be signals at the ramps so the traffic can do this maneuver.”
Cars that aren’t getting on I-55 also will have to switch to the left side of the road.
So if you are traveling north on Weber Road, you would exit to the right if you want to go north to Chicago. If you don’t exit and continue traveling north, you’ll move over to the left lanes to either exit onto southbound I-55 or continue north on Weber Road.
It’s kind of complicated. I had Gould draw me an example on my reporter’s notebook, and he moved the pen like a car, which helped.
I’ve included a diagram of the proposed interchange with this column. But I think we’ll all have to see it to believe it.
While a hearing will held on the DDI’s design this summer, one DDI is ready to go at Illinois 59 and Interstate 88 and bids have been let for the work, Gould said.
The newfangled interchanges are being used in other states, but the Illinois 59 DDI will be the first in Illinois.
They’re catching on because they’re safer and more streamlined than the traditional cloverleaf design, Gould said. Less right of way is needed, too, which cuts down on the cost for a project.
“It moves traffic very efficiently, and the footprint for it is much smaller than a standard cloverleaf,” he said.
One sticking point before the Weber Road and I-55 work can get under way is that the project is tied to the sale of land around Stateville Correctional Center.
Before the Great Recession hit, a local legislator thought the project would move faster if money from the sale of 200 acres around the prison could be used to fund the work.
The land was valued at $100,000 to $120,000 at the time. But now it’s worth much less, and the state doesn’t want to sell it until land values recover.
But legislators are saying the land must be sold before the Weber Road work can begin, Will County lobbyist Brent Hassert told a county board committee last week.
He said amending the original legislation that tied the land sale to the roadwork will be an easy fix during the Legislature’s November veto session.
“It’s a very minor glitch,” he said.
So who was the legislator who got the original bill passed that linked the roadwork to the land sale? Former state Rep. Hassert, who now must fix the glitch as a lobbyist.
“OK, blame me,” the Romeoville Republican joked at the committee meeting.
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