by Susan O’Neill
Next to a land-use plan, a transportation plan for a community or a region may be the most important to establish for a growing area. By developing a transportation plan in conjunction with one for future residential and commercial development, government officials can ensure there are adequate roads to accommodate the increased traffic.
By working with other entities such as developers, the state, county or federal government, and having a plan in place when the money becomes available, a municipality can exercise some control over the necessary road improvements.
Planning ahead for road maintenance precludes the need for more expensive repair down the road. Funding plays a major role in the ability of a village, township or county to accomplish this, as well.
The most significant recent transportation development in the Elburn area has been the extension of the Metra train line west to the village. With an average of 250 to 300 cars per day in the parking lot, the station has exceeded everyone’s expectations, Elburn Village President Jim Willey said.
Elburn Village Administrator Dave Morrison said Metra has requested federal funds to assist with an expansion of the parking lot to accommodate at least another 300 cars. This project should take place in 2009 or 2010.
Willey said the village is actively working with Sho-Deen developers on plans to build around the train station. The biggest hurdle is funding for the expansion of Elburn’s wastewater treatment plant to accommodate the growth.
Willey said it was good to have commercial projects in place at the intersection of Routes 47 and 38 when the recession hit. With Walgreens going up on the northeast corner, there is additional significant business rental opportunity within the Prairie Valley North commercial development where Walgreens is located.
He said the state has plans for a pedestrian signal at the intersection to allow for safe crossing across Route 38 from McDonald’s to the new development. Development of the northwest corner will happen more slowly.
According to Willey, Kane County reports that the exponential increase in traffic counts on Route 47 has begun to level out with the slow-down of the economy. Construction of the Anderson Street overpass, still a county priority, should serve as a functional bypass for local and regional traffic, mitigating some of the excess on Route 47.
Grobmar Investments, LLC, has plans for a multi-tenant retail development at the northwest corner of Keslinger and Route 47, Morrison said. According to Willey, Elburn is working with the Kane County Department of Transportation (KDOT) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for future road improvements in that area.
â€œHowever, the cemetery will always be an issue for that corner,â€ Willey said. â€œIt’s not going anywhere.â€
He said there are no solid proposals for the southwest and southeast corners of the intersection.
â€œA full interchange at I-88 and Route 47 would really benefit Elburn,â€ Willey said. â€œResidents have to take a circuitous route to go east on 88.â€
Sugar Grove is currently extending Municipal Drive north of Route 30 and extending Galena Boulevard west to meet it. Village President Sean Michels said he feels these extensions are important for future commercial and business park development in Sugar Grove. The Municipal Drive extension has proved useful in enticing HondaJet to locate its Midwest operations at the Aurora Municipal Airport.
The village added its own financing to $4 million in funding obtained from the federal government to accomplish these projects.
The roads will provide access for 150 acres of retail development on the southwest side of Route 47 and Galena Boulevard. Plans for extending Municipal Drive farther north to Wheeler Road will facilitate commercial development at the as-yet-undeveloped 180-acre business park, High Pointe Center.
A feasibility study for a full intersection at Interstate 88 and Route 47 is currently under way with funding from the Crown Community Development, the village of Sugar Grove and other property owners in the area. Several years ago, Crown Development proposed a 790-acre mixed-use development around the intersection of Route 47 and Interstate 88 that would benefit from a full interchange there.
Michels said identifying future funding sources such as the Illinois Tollway Highway Authority, developers and IDOT, will be necessary to move the project forward.
Road improvements are scheduled for this spring at Bliss and Merrill roads to make the intersection safer. Blind spots on the road have become more hazardous, as development in the area has led to an increase in traffic. The funding will come from fees collected through Kane County’s recently implemented transportation impact fees.
Michels said the construction of bridges over the Burlington Railroad tracks at Gordon Road and Municipal Drive south of Route 30 would provide alternate routes to Route 47, relieving some of the traffic along the road in that area. The village currently does not have a funding source to accomplish these projects.
Sugar Grove will use more than $1 million of Local Agency Pavement Preservation (LAPP) money for two major overlays at Wheeler and Norris roads. The village will pay $300,000 toward the project, using road impact fees collected from developers. Michels said the village has been able to regularly provide maintenance on village roads and reviews its maintenance plans on a continual basis.
Michels said he thinks the Prairie Parkway will provide an economic benefit to the village, with the Route 30 interchange allowing for easy access.
â€œTransportation is key to our economic future and our quality of life,â€ Michels said.
Maple Park recently conducted a transportation study to determine what roads and road improvements were needed to handle increased traffic associated with new residential development. Although development of the John Claire Homes and Grand Pointe Homes projects are both currently on hold, trustee Terry Borg said that once the economy bounces back, progress on these projects and the road improvements will resume.
Two years ago, the village resurfaced selected roads in the old part of the town. With emergency funding, the village built up Main, Elm and Willow streets using crushed rock. With the help of a Kane County Community Development Block Grant, the village rebuilt several sidewalks on the south side of town.
Village President Bob Rodney said Kaneville does not have any road projects planned within the village in the near future. Kaneville Township Road Commissioner Denny Long said the township and village blacktopped most of the roads in the area a few years ago, so they are in fairly good shape.
â€œWe haven’t got the money to consider any improvements for now,â€ Rodney said.
IDOT engineer Rick Powell said he is hopeful that the study to widen Route 47 between Yorkville and Sugar Grove will take place this year. This is in addition to the stretch of Route 47 from Interstate 80 to Caton Farm Road that will be widened to four lanes as a part of the Prairie Parkway project.
The Prairie Parkway project, a 35-mile north-south highway to connect Interstate 80 to Interstate 88, received federal approval in September 2008 after a process that lasted seven years.
IDOT is currently purchasing land in the corridor where the road will be built. Powell said 2,600 acres will be needed for the highway, as well as to widen the 12 miles of Route 47 from Caton Farm Road to I-80. As of January 2009, IDOT acquired approximately 250 acres of the land needed.
Construction could begin on the road as early as 2010. The first stretch of road that will be built is the 11 miles between routes 71 and 34, with the next priority between routes 34 and 30.
IDOT has $16 million for the Prairie Parkway project in the highway program budget for 2009, with $72 million set aside for 2010-14.
â€œWe keep receiving money to keep moving forward,â€ Powell said.
Photo: With a parking lot full of cars, the Elburn Metra station is one of the most significant additions to area transportation in recent years. File Photo