Cedar Lake Road realignment sparks hope in Round Lake
The realignment of Cedar Lake Road through downtown Round Lake, an idea that rivals the longevity of the proposed Route 53 extension, has resurfaced and is sparking hope for the eventual revitalization of the area.
The Lake County Board recently authorized a contract for $766,446 with Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc. of Aurora for preliminary engineering, or what is known as Phase 1, of the realignment. That process includes analysis of alternate alignments and aspects, such as right of way needs, public meetings and forming a stakeholder group.
While there likely will be debate over a preferred alignment, the fact it has gotten to this point represents a significant step for the county and good news for village officials.
"It's a big deal we're actually getting started with a Phase 1," said Chuck Gleason, project manager for Lake County division of transportation.
"This was talked about when my dad was mayor in 1961," said Mayor Dan MacGillis, who has been pursuing the realignment and potential downtown improvements focused on the Metra station since he was elected in 2013.
Improving traffic flow is a priority but there would be other benefits, he added.
"I think it would spur economic development," he said of the realignment between Nippersink Road and Hart Road.
MacGillis said Round Lake's downtown fits the Regional Transportation Authority's criteria for a transit-oriented development, but won't receive assistance from the agency until the realignment is determined.
Besides the realignment, the study involves six side street relocations and configurations. It also calls for the removal of the existing railroad crossing at Cedar Lake Road with a new one to be built to the west, and relocation of the train station.
"It's as big a deal in Round Lake as the (proposed) consolidation," of the Round Lake communities, said Lake County Board member Terry Wilke, who represents the area and is seeking a third term in the Nov. 8 election. His challenger, Timothy Walsh, said the village would benefit from the increase in businesses and jobs the project could generate.
Gleason said officials are considering three alternatives for the realignment.
"We've narrowed it from a pretty wide selection to these three. They do different things, they impact different properties," he said.
Public meetings likely will be held early next year. Overall, Phase 1 work generally takes about 2½ years, according to Gleason.
MacGillis noted LCDOT had no money set aside for project planning until recently. There is $3.14 million in the current six-year plan.
"I'm very excited now," MacGillis said. "In a couple of years, we might have a centerline agreement and I'll be beating on the RTA's door again."