Dirt should start flying any day on widening Ill. Rte. 3 from South Market St. to North Market St. in Waterloo, Ill. The engineering firm of Horner & Shifrin Inc. provided the planning and design to expand this three-mile stretch from two lanes to five.
The first task, according to company associate vice president Steve Donahue, was to solicit public involvement, gathering input from the residents under the Illinois Dept. of Transportation’s Context Sensitive Solutions approach.
According to IDOT’s Web site, Context Sensitive Solutions or CSS is an interdisciplinary approach that seeks effective, multimodal transportation solutions by working with stakeholders to develop, build and maintain cost-effective transportation facilities which fit into and reflect the project’s surroundings - its “context.” Through early, frequent and meaningful communication with stakeholders and a flexible and creative approach to design, the resulting projects should improve safety and mobility for the traveling public while seeking to preserve and enhance the scenic, economic, historic and natural qualities of the settings through which they pass.
One of the issues revealed through the CSS process, according to Donahue, was an unsafe intersection for which a roundabout was determined to be the best solution. Donahue says roundabouts used in the right locations reduce traffic accidents by 53 percent.
Another planning concept H&S used in this project is what’s called Complete Streets. It expands the focus of roadway planning beyond the needs of motor vehicles to include usage by pedestrians and cyclists as well.
The Complete Streets Coalition defines a complete street as “streets for everyone. Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street.”
In 2007, the Illinois General Assembly passed a complete streets policy which stated that “bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the development of transportation facilities.”
Under the Complete Streets policy, part of the Ill. Rte. 3 project will include a shared-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists for the entire length of the improvement. Halfway through the new roadway project, the path will switch from the east side of the road to the west side of the road, Donahue says. But instead of having an at-grade crossing with the potential for accidents, a box culvert will be installed underneath the roadway to eliminate conflicts. When completed, people will be able to get on the path and go from the north end of town to the south end of town and never have to cross the highway.
The three-mile project has been broken into two parts. The first piece is also the result of the CSS process, says Donahue, in which citizens pointed out the need to extend the improvements further south to deal with problems at the intersection of Ill. Rte. 3 and Vandebrook Drive. That intersection project was put on an earlier bid letting and the remainder of the project was bid a few months later.
Project completion is projected for mid-2015.