Intervention by Deerfield officials and the local business community will hopefully reduce the inconvenience scheduled to begin in April when Lake Cook and Waukegan Roads go under construction.
When the first phase of the work was completed in 2011, delays on Lake Cook Road of over an hour between the Tri-State Tollway and Waukegan Road were not uncommon.
This time, officials from Deerfield and Northbrook got involved with the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways and a plan was developed to keep people informed of progress and avoid some of the delays.
Cook County officials did not sugarcoat the effect of the changes. “It’s going to be tough getting in and out (of commercial areas),” Transportation and Planning Bureau Chief Jennifer Killen said. “This is construction.”
What will be different this time will be a strong effort between officials of the project and the local community to let people know what is happening so alternative choices can be made. There was little or no communication two years ago, according to Deerfield Mayor Harriet Rosenthal.
“Communication was lacking,” Rosenthal said. “That’s why we have a full time person from our staff to keep track of the communication,” she added referring to Deerfield Project Engineer John Guccione. He will do nothing else during the course of the project. “We learned,” Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal also pointed out the work going on two years ago on Half Day Road and Deerfield Road is done. “That’s one of the reasons we made them wait a year,” she said. “It gave our businesses time to recoup. People who don’t have to be on Lake Cook road will have other choices.”
Killen touted incentives and penalties built into the contract with the construction company as another reason the work should be done on schedule. For every day the work is done before Oct. 26, there is a $17,500 per day bonus. That incentive turns into a penalty of the same amount after Oct. 26.
“We want this done for the holiday shopping season,” Killen said. “This is a very aggressive schedule.”
The thrust of the project will be widening Lake Cook Road to three lanes in each direction between Deer Lake and Ellendale Roads. During construction, Lake Road traffic will be limited to one lane in each direction with left turn lanes to allow access to all businesses.
Waukegan Road will be widened near Lake Cook Road to accomodate the changes there. Additional work will be done between the Tri-State Tollway spur and the Deerfield Animal Hospital. There will be one lane in each direction during the work on Waukegan Road as well.
Deerfield has developed a website (www.LakeCookRoad.com) to keep all interested parties informed throughout the project. There will be email communication with everyone who registers for the regular newsletter.