by Susan O’Neill
Turning left onto Merrill Road from the Bliss Road intersection is currently hazardous, but it should be much safer by November. According to Kane County Chief of Construction Dave Boesch, work on the intersection should begin by mid-May to June with a completion target of November.
The hazardous nature of the intersection is caused by the hill leading up to the intersection, a curve in the road and a stand of trees along the road near the intersection, obscuring drivers’ vision as they approach.
The intersection improvement includes widening the road, making a five-foot cut to lower the hill and straightening out the curve.
In addition, two turn lanes will be added: One to turn left onto Merrill when traveling northeast on Bliss and the other to turn left onto Bliss when traveling south on Merrill. The stand of trees has already been removed.
The Kane County Board awarded the project to Montgomery-based Aurora Blacktop at its February meeting. Aurora Blacktop came in with the lowest bid at $835,277, approximately 30 percent lower than the county engineer’s estimate of $1.2 million.
Nobody at the county questioned the importance of improving the intersection, trustee Mary Heineman said. Heineman has been working with county officials for the past several years on getting the project approved.
The intersection, already a hazard, became an even bigger issue in 2004 when developer Ed Saloga Builders, Inc. proposed the Hannaford Homes Subdivision. The development was to be a 139-single family home subdivision on 122 acres north of Merrill Road just east of Bliss and Merrill.
The original annexation agreement required Hannaford Farms to pay approximately one-third of the amount needed to improve the intersection. The cost at the time was estimated at $345,000.
Since 2004, the scope of the project has changed, with additional improvements that officials say will make the intersection even safer. Local landowner Edward Dunteman agreed to give up more of his property on Bliss Road to the county to accommodate the additional work at the intersection.
The county will pay for the project with funds collected through the county-wide developer transportation impact fee.
Kane County Board member Bill Wyatt, who represents that area of Sugar Grove, has been working with Heineman to push the project forward. The county will work with the Kaneland School District to reroute school buses during the project. There will be local access for people living on Bliss Road.