Local, County and State Officials Hold Summit for IDOT 159th Street Update

Local, County and State Officials Hold Summit for IDOT 159th Street Update
Posted on 08/18/2017

Orland Park area officials and legislators gathered on August 14 to learn the status of the 159th Street Construction Project from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

"I contacted State Representative Margo McDermed (R-37) to ask how we could get a status on the project, find out when it will be done and to accelerate the timeline of the project, if possible," said Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau. "We then brought together representatives from the areas affected and we were able to talk directly with the IDOT engineers and project managers and ask questions specific to our areas."

Orland Park village officials included Pekau and Village Trustee Mike Carroll, chair of the village's Public Works Committee, along with administrative staff.

McDermed, who serves on the Illinois House Transportation Committee, told those in attendance, "Three of the top concerns for people in my district are transportation, education and property tax relief. Large projects such as we have with 159th Street have a big impact on the day to day lives of our mutual constituents."

In January, 2015, IDOT let two projects to reconstruct US Route 6/Illinois Route 7 (159th Street) from Interstate 355 to US Route 45 in Will and Cook Counties. Improvements are being made due to increased travel demands because of the growth in the area. The project is located within the Villages of Homer Glen and Orland Park, Homer Township and Orland Township, and the City of Lockport in Cook and Will Counties.

Elected officials at the meeting included Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison (R-17), Will County Commissioners Mike Fricilone (R-Homer Glen) and Steve Balich (R-Homer Glen). Also in attendance were Tinley Park Mayor Jacob Vandenberg, Orland Hills Mayor Kyle Hastings, Homer Glen Mayor George Yukich with Lockport represented by its city administrator. Homer Township Highway Commissioner Mike DeVivo also attended.

Personnel from the Cook and Will Counties Departments of Transportation and Highways attended as did senior staff from many of the affected municipalities. State Representative Frann Hurley (D-35) and Jim Durkin (R-82) also had representatives at the meeting.

Describing the project, IDOT said, "Upon completion, the project will provide a number of improvements for the roadway users, as it will increase roadway and intersection capacity, correct geometric deficiencies, replace deficient bridge structures and ultimately improve safety and mobility."

"We want to be able to give our residents and businesses clear answers on when this project will be done," Pekau said.

McDermed added, "The businesses located within these construction zones may lose business. It's imperative that the disruption caused by these much needed road improvements be limited to the shortest time frame possible."

Divided into two parts, the 159th Street Project includes the 2.5 mile portion from Will-Cook Road to Ravinia Avenue and the 5.05 mile stretch from Gougar Road to Will-Cook Road.

The portion that ends at Ravinia Avenue in Orland Park includes adding lanes, drainage improvements, a shared use path, sidewalk and other related work. The project is currently in its first stage of construction to build two new 12 feet wide eastbound lanes, new southbound and northbound lanes on Wolf Road and 108th Avenue and a new signalized intersection with 104th Avenue.

The new eastbound lanes are expected to be opened by December, 2017 which will enable the second stage of construction to build the new westbound lanes to begin.

IDOT engineers cited a number of delays that have held up both parts of the 159th Street Project, among them utility relocations, deep peat of more than 20 feet, adding a permanent sheet pile wall to stabilize the widened embankment and the department's shutdown because of the state's budget crisis.

The department shared a December, 2018 completion date of the second and third stages and the opening of the westbound 159th Street lanes. The tentative final landscaping is expected to be completed in June, 2019 dependent on time for 2017 and 2018 winter shutdowns.

"People throughout the region have been very patient with all of the construction projects," said Orland Park Trustee Mike Carroll. "We appreciated the IDOT engineers sitting down with everyone to give us an update and to let us know what has held things up and when we can all expect these improvements to be completed."

The second part of IDOT's 159th Street improvements run from Gougar Road to Will-Cook Road. Started in May, 2015, this phase includes reconstruction and adding lanes, drainage improvement, a shared use path, sidewalk and other related work on 5.05 miles of US Route 7/IL 7 (159th Street). This project runs through Homer Glen, Homer Township, Lockport and Orland Park.

"Since the utility delays have been addressed and the soil issues have been identified, we all expect the project not to be delayed any further," Pekau told the IDOT staffers. "If anything, we would like to have the timeline pushed forward."

During the meeting, Carroll asked if local officials should call on representatives in Springfield to help with the many utility delays.

"Utilities causing delays seem to be a recurring theme," Carroll said during the meeting. "We ran into this with the LaGrange Road improvements and I'm wondering if we should ask for help from Springfield to keep utility issues from delaying road improvement projects."

New eastbound lanes are expected to be opened by December, 2017 which will enable the second stage of construction to begin. Stages 2 and 3 are expected to be completed in December, 2018 with final landscaping slated for June, 2019. The tentative completion includes time for winter 2017/2018 shutdowns.

"Being able to communicate project status updates and timeline changes to our constituents on a regular basis is very important to all of the community representatives who joined us at the meeting," McDermed said.

Updates and details about the project can be found on the IDOT website at http://www.idot.illinois.gov/projects/159th-street-project.