Winter driving may mean snowy, icy and treacherous roads, but at least more lanes will be open.
More lanes are opening, or reopening, every week as road projects that have lasted through the warm weather come to a close with the arrival of the cold months.
All four lanes on the Caton Farm Road bridge in Joliet are expected to be open again on Saturday.
A section of South Briggs Street between Route 52 and Mills Road in Joliet Township reopened Nov. 21.
Coming soon, if motorists are lucky, will be lane reopenings on the stretch of Route 30 that is under construction running west of Interstate 55 into Plainfield. The Illinois Department of Transportation said all lanes should be open before the end of the year, although the project is not expected to be completed until summer 2017.
Route 30 lane reopenings cannot come too soon for people who depend on the road.
“I can’t imagine how excited people are going to be when this is all done,” said Jake Melrose, economic development specialist for the village of Plainfield. “Just as a person living here, I know it’s going to be nice not to have to go around that area. The businesses are going to be pretty happy, too.”
Leisure Hours Hobbies moved into the Route 30 corridor during construction. Owner Scott Hill said high traffic counts on Route 30 should be good for business, especially once the route is easier to travel.
“We’ve been around 40 years. Our customers should find us,” Hill said. “Black Friday was good. That was a good sign.”
It should be easier to get in and out of Plainfield businesses, too, since Route 30 will have new center lanes from which left turns can be made. Left turns from the two-lane road typically tied up traffic because motorists would have to wait for gaps in long lines of cars waiting to make the turn.
Recent road openings
Some projects were completed in the week before Thanksgiving, making holiday travel a little smoother in places.
IDOT completed the Cass Street bridge project in Joliet on Nov. 23, making it easier to get in and out of downtown for the Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade two days later.
An intersection project at Caton Farm and Essington roads is nearly done, but all lanes were opened for Black Friday since the route is a major entry point to the Louis Joliet Mall.
“They’re hoping by the end of this week to be done for the winter,” said Joliet Public Works Director James Trizna. “It won’t be completed.”
Work crews will return in the spring to install the new traffic lights. The temporary signals will remain up for the winter, but all lanes will be open.
New turn lanes have been added, which should make getting to and from the mall easier during the holiday shopping season. Motorists traveling south away from the mall on Essington Road have a new right-turn lane at Caton Farm Road. Motorists traveling east on Caton Farm Road have a new right-turn lane at Essington Road.
A major road reconstruction project on Briggs Street was completed last week, said Bruce Gould, director of transportation for Will County. The section of Briggs Street between Route 52 and Mills Road had been completely shut down for months.
The improved stretch of Briggs Street includes a new center lane.
Another major road project done by the county this year is close to completion.
A bridge over Forked Creek on Wilmington-Peotone Road is being replaced, and the county is trying to complete the job before winter weather sets in.
“We’re working diligently on this,” Gould said, adding that he is looking for the job to be done by the end of December.
The road is down to one lane at the bridge now with a signal controlling traffic.
Saturday is the target date for opening all four lanes on the Caton Farm Road bridge in Joliet, Trizna said.
“They have to do a little bit of guardrail work,” he said.
Two lanes have been open yearlong as work crews replaced the bridge deck and repaired a center pier and abutments.
The repairs mean that the bridge will be back to its normal 80,000-pound weight limit, which had been reduced because of the weakened condition.