Will County puts brakes on roadwork that would have cost church $300K
BY CINDY WOJDYLA CAIN firstname.lastname@example.org April 2, 2013 6:02PM
Updated: May 4, 2013 6:34AM
JOLIET — A Will County Board committee did a quick U-turn Tuesday after voting to force a church to build a left-turn lane on 143rd Street in Homer Glen.
After public works and transportation committee members learned the lane would be ripped out several years from now when the county widens that stretch of 143rd Street, they rescinded the vote and then postponed a decision on the lane requirement until a future meeting.
The Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary wants to build a 250-seat church on the south side of 143rd Street east of Dixon Lane. County road requirements would force the church to install a left-turn lane at an estimated cost of $300,000 — money church officials say they don’t have.
After the public works committee voted to reject the church’s variance request, George Arnold, the church’s lawyer, asked if the left-turn lane requirement could be postponed until the traffic flow actually warranted it.
County engineer Bruce Gould said that was not a good idea because developers promise they will install turn lanes in the future but then when the time comes they say they don’t have the money. That’s what’s happening now with a development at Renwick and Weber roads, and the county has taken the developer to court as a result, Gould said.
“We’ve gotten burned quite a few times,” he said.
But the county plans to widen 143rd Street from Lemont Road to Bell Road, which would include the stretch of road past the new church. When Arnold asked Gould what would happen to a turn lane installed by the church when the road is widened by the county, Gould said it would be torn out.
“It doesn’t make much sense,” committee chairman Walter Adamic, D-Joliet, said. “They’re going to put it in, and we’re going to tear it out.”
Suzanne Hart, R-Naperville, agreed.
“I think this kind of changes a few things,” she said.
Gould noted that the 143rd Street improvement could be more than five years away.
The Rev. Sam Dimitriou, the church’s leader, said only about 80 families are expected to attend the church at first and there would be only one service on Sunday mornings, so traffic would be minimal.
The church was located at 20401 S. Western Ave. in Olympia Fields for 42 years until it moved to rented space in Orland Park in 2010. Now it is moving to rented space at 156th Street and Bell Road in Homer Glen in anticipation of the new church being built.
Joliet turn lane
The committee also agreed to drop a request by members of the Oakwood Estates Condominium Association to build a right-turn lane off of McDonough Street at the residential development’s entrance on Coventry Chase.
The lane, which would have cost $50,000, isn’t warranted by traffic numbers, Gould said. Only 22 cars turned in to the development in a 12-hour period.
The county is about to straighten and widen McDonough from Infantry Drive to Houbolt Road. The road will have three lanes and include a middle turn lane, but no right-turn lane.
Joliet is kicking in $370,000 for the $5 million project, and the county road will be turned over to the city once the work is done. County officials emailed city officials to see if they wanted to split the cost of the turn lane, but no one has responded yet.
As a result, the committee decided to drop the issue and approve an intergovernmental agreement with the city that does not include the right-turn lane. The full board will vote on the agreement at its April 18 meeting.
Jim Sczepaniak, the condo association’s treasurer, said cars traveling west speed on that stretch of road and the turn lane would have been a safety measure for the community’s aging residents. He said he hopes the county and the city will reconsider before the work starts, which could be a while because the county has to condemn some privately owned land for the road’s right of way.