County gets third roundabout at Dowell Road angle crossing

By Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media

Construction at the intersection of River and Dowell roads has begun with the relocation of sewer piping. (Courtesy of the McHenry County Division of Transportation)

The McHenry County Division of Transportation has embarked on correcting a traffic “bottleneck” for vehicles turning at River and Dowell roads, near Island Lake, with construction of a roundabout that will be built through the summer and carry an expected early November completion date. When finished, it will be the county’s third such traffic flow installation since 2014.

Dowell Road enters the crossing with River Road at an angle, and has poor sight lines while creating vehicle congestion during peak commuter travel times. In the summer, tourists and fishermen visiting the nearby Moraine Hills State Park and the McHenry Dam bring increased usage and add to safety concerns. Plans for the intersection began in 2011, as engineering studies were proffered to incorporate the selection of a roundabout as the best option.

Funding mechanisms through the county’s motor fuel tax apportionment share and sales tax allotment from the Regional Transportation Authority only recently came into play. The county board awarded the contract April 17 for building the roundabout to Addison-based PirTano Construction, Inc. at a cost of $3.59 million.

“Work has already started with the relocation of effluent water piping that lead to the Northern Moraine Water Reclamation District in Island Lake, and some of the construction cost will be reimbursed to the county, because of it, “said Jeff Young, the MCDOT assistant county engineer. “These are new force mains and there will be partial lane closures on Dowell Road to accommodate that relocation in June.

An overview map shows the construction site for the third county roundabout, and the detour routes at Burnett and Darrell roads. (Courtesy of the McHenry County Division of Transportation)

“The concept of roundabouts has a two-fold reasoning with eliminating a ‘bottleneck’ back-up of traffic capacity at an intersection, and also address safety concerns at an intersection that produces a lot of vehicle accidents,” he said. “The roundabout-type system is gaining popularity for being cost-effective to build, and each of the two previous installations addressed one, or both, of the reasoning issues.”

In Johnsburg, the 2014 circular traffic pattern was the first construction of its type in McHenry County, and replaced vehicle congestion from stop signs at the odd-corners of St. John’s Avenue, Chapel Hill and Wilmot-Johnsburg roads. The Illinois Department of Transportation conducted the job order bidding process that was awarded to the Crystal-Lake-based firm of Curran Contracting, Inc. at $2.79 million. Other funding came from county and municipal sources

In Woodstock, the intersection at Charles and Raffel roads had long been a major concern for safety aspects, due to its high volume of traffic and its rural location. Nearly $2.6 million had been allocated for the project, including nearly $350,000 paid for engineering plans to the Aurora-based consulting firm of Crawford, Murphy and Tilly, Inc., which also has offices in Springfield.

The county board accepted a $2.18 million bid from Huntley-based Landmark Contractors, Inc. to build a roundabout, during its April 18, 2017 regular meeting. Traffic signal warrants and studies, undertaken in 2012, assessed that 16,000 vehicles used the intersection daily. The scope of safety concerns placed the intersection on the county’s five-year highway improvement plan. Raw data indicated that a 62 per centinjury rate was generated from vehicle accidents and collisions at the site.

“The Johnsburg installation relieved a capacity back-up in the downtown area, but the Charles and Raffel roads roundabout was all about safety from angle and T-bone collisions,” said Young. “All three sites will be safer, since the roundabout system is more efficient with no stopping, and no waiting. As for taxpayer funding comparisons, it is not cost-prohibitive to construct.”

Partial closures will take place on Dowell Road, from June to mid-August, for traffic pattern changes, although River Road will remain open with staggered lane closures.

“River Road will also have construction flaggers, and we’re looking at mid-November to be done with the project and have it open,” said MCDOT construction manager Jim Warner.

Roundabouts are in use throughout Europe, with traffic entering a circular pattern that always heads to the right, and must yield to vehicles already in the circle. 


County gets third roundabout at Dowell Road angle crossing–