Mark Bushnell admits, orange is the new prominent color in DeKalb County.
The Sycamore city engineer concedes that projects are happening virtually everywhere in the county.
Most notably in his jurisdiction, one of the county’s major thoroughfares, Bethany Road, has been torn up the past month. Officials say it’s going to take more than two months to button up the project geared to make way for the new Northwestern Medicine Wellness Center, a stone’s throw from Kishwaukee Family YMCA.
In the meantime, drivers are slamming on their brakes as they anticipate Y users pulling into the barricade-shielded, narrow entrance to the lot off Bethany Road.
YMCA CEO Mark Spiegelhoff said members, whether dropping off children for summer camp or coming in to work out, haven’t complained too much, and that business hasn’t taken a substantial hit.
“I think people have gotten used to it,” Spiegelhoff said. “We were told this would be a long-term project, three months or so. They’re giving us updates as they can.”
Kim Waterman, marketing specialist with Northwestern Medicine, said at no point will both of the entrances/exits off Bethany Road be closed. She said drivers can follow “clearly marked directions,” and that the back entrance of Health Services Drive will always be open.
She said the Y is getting a dedicated left-turn lane into the west entrance off Bethany Road, and that curbs and aprons at all entrances are being updated.
“Finally, we are giving them a new right-in, right-out entrance and exit from the west lot onto Northwestern Medicine’s private drive,” Waterman wrote in an email.
She said lane closures will be ongoing through Oct. 15, after which the wellness center can open. A traffic signal will be interconnected with the existing light at Greenwood Acres Drive to better regulate traffic, Waterman said.
More Sycamore projects
Speaking of impediments to fitness centers, work is expected to start soon on Airport Road, the stretch of which will include the entrance to the recently opened Sycamore Community Center, 480 S. Airport Road.
That project was originally expected to be completed by Sept. 1, but Bushnell said he’s still waiting on an update from the contractor.
“Obviously with any construction schedule, it’s dependent on weather, if any of the materials are back-ordered, or if the contractor runs into any issues,” he said.
Most of the streets projects in both Sycamore and DeKalb are being done by Curran Contracting of DeKalb – aside from the Northwestern Medicine project, which is being done by Elliott and Wood, also of DeKalb.
Elliott and Wood is also tackling the stretch of Bethany Road near Adient, where the road buckled on May 26 – about two years after a similar issue in 2016. On July 2, the City Council approved Elliott and Wood’s bid to do the job, to the tune of $38,000. The middle lanes remain closed, and Bushnell said concrete was poured this past week.
The city’s Motor Fuel Tax-funded jobs on Woodgate Drive, Sycamore Street and Borden Avenue should be done by the end of the month, Bushnell said.
Locally funded projects on Exchange Street between Sycamore and Maple streets, as well as on Washington and Locust streets and Maertz Drive are underway.
Still in Sycamore …
The elephant in the county just might be state Route 23, yes?
Last fall, the resurfacing project of the main artery of the county, which was expected to be finished before snowfall, well … wasn’t. As work was being done between Oakland Drive and Coltonville Road, brittle material was found under the surface, meaning more work than anticipated needed to be done on the stretch.
Most notably, the Oakland Drive intersection leading to Hy-Vee remains unpaved. However, a mile to the north, be careful turning from Bethany onto Route 23, where manholes are exposed, a la the first phase of the state project that had folks slaloming around veritable suspension-killers last fall.
According to Nate Sell, construction field engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation, faulty material has been replaced, and all that’s left is putting down the surface asphalt, which will happen overnight next week. Asphalt binder was placed, and electrical work was done this week.
“Mid-September would be a pretty good estimate for the project to be done,” Sell said.
The project might be on a faster track if it weren’t for the fire that caused about $750,000 in damage at Curran’s plant in June.
“When that happened, it set us back a few weeks,” Sell said. “You can never hold that against a contractor – it’s out of their control.”
The big project in Barb City is underway, now that the state has finished its project at the tollway entrances at South Annie Glidden Road.
Single lanes are closed at Annie Glidden and Fairview Drive for the state-contracted project, but no roads will ever be closed altogether, according to Public Works Director Tim Holdeman.
He said the project could be finished by mid-October.
Meanwhile, in the Ellwood neighborhood, asphalt has been milled and removed, and Holdeman is hopeful the surface will be fully replaced by Aug. 22.
“That was a big one,” he said. “We wanted to be out of there before school starts.”
After that, crews will resurface Ridge Drive between Bayfield Drive and First Street, and then East Taylor Street between Maplewood Avenue and Seventh Street.
“Those projects will both be pretty quick,” Holdeman said.
Around the county
Good news for Sandwich fairgoers who live north of the de facto county fair site: By the time the annual celebration starts up Sept. 5 at the fairgrounds, 15730 Pratt Road, the Somonauk Road bridge just south of state Route 30 should be replaced.
“It is very nice when projects go as planned,” DeKalb County Highway Engineer Nathan Schwartz said. “There’s always going to be unique issues that are unexpected and might pop up. Even with the formal detour, people would still be able to find the Sandwich Fair from the north, but it’s nice to not have to put the burden of the traffic on the detour route.”
The bridge repair on East County Line Road north of Maple Park and between Pleasant Street and Barber Greene Road is actually ahead of schedule and should wrap up this month, Schwartz said.
Culvert repair is happening at the intersection of Somonauk and Gurler roads, and pipe culvert repair is more than halfway done on Chicago Road in the southern part of the county.
The county’s big, pain-in-the-tuchus project in DeKalb is the intersection of Barber Greene and County Farm roads, where the replacement of a 5-foot concrete pipe has been delayed twice. Schwartz said Rockford-based William Charles Construction Co. said the project will be done Tuesday through Thursday, as he’s pressing for a final schedule.
“And I say final date because I’ve told the contractor we need to get it done this time,” Schwartz said.