Johnsburg’s Chapel Hill Road bridge rehabilitation moving toward completion

By Gregory Harutunian for Chronicle Media

The Chapel Hill Road Bridge, prior to the start of repair work, last May. (Photo by Gregory Harutunian/for Chronicle Media)

Traffic will again freely be traversing the Chapel Hill Road Bridge in Johnsburg as progress on the rehabilitation project has moved forward at a swift pace.

Initially closed June 4, the structure has undergone a major overhaul, consisting of jacking all the beams and replacing corroded bridge roller bearings under its deck. Work also encompassed significant concrete repairs at the two of the seven anchor piers, where deteriorated pier caps will be replaced.

Currently, the project is 95 percent completed and the bridge is open to all traffic while minor clean-up and landscaping restoration is being done. Some daytime lane closures may be required to allow the work to be done safely. Weather has cooperated with the project’s completion date, originally targeted for a late August date to allow landscaping and remaining details to be finished.

Built in 1996, age and deterioration also necessitated the repairs of surface cracks at the piers and abutments, replacement of expansion joints, along with the cleaning and painting of some metal beam sections. Preparation work began last May, when signage, access planking, and floating barges were installed, as well as temporary bridge supports and scaffolding.

Glendale Heights-based Dunnet Bay Construction, Inc. was selected as the general contractor for the project, with the McHenry County Division of Transportation’s James Werner overseeing the effort as the construction manager.

The detour route, as dictated by the Chapel Hill Road Bridge closure, followed Route 120 to Route 31 to Johnsburg Road. (Map courtesy of the McHenry County Division of Transportation)

The bridge closure created a hardship for motorists and emergency responders being unable to leave the town of Johnsburg from its northern point. The detour route followed Route 120 to Route 31 in McHenry, and then to Johnsburg Road.

Another concern raised during the process was a potential funneling of the Fox River waters through the temporary abutments, where the Chapel Hill Road Bridge spans the two banks. In 2013, reconstruction of the Charles J. Miller Bridge, near its intersection with River Road, narrowed the gap between the two banks with temporary abutments. It was mentioned as a potential cause of slowing down the receding water levels from the record “100-Year Flood,” which impacted the Chain O’ Lake-Fox River waterway systems.

Werner said, through an email, “Regarding the Fox River, the work platforms in the river for the Chapel Hill Road bridge work are either floating, or on stilts. They have not narrowed the Fox River in any way, and have not affected its flow.”

The bridge’s traffic lane was closed briefly in July, however emergency vehicles were later allowed to pass over, as the reminder of the work is completed. With the opening of the bridge ahead of its planned completion date, the Village of Johnsburg noted an ordinance change on its website, concerning traffic flow and movement.

“With the bridge opening, the left turn restriction from Fairview Avenue takes effect immediately. As a reminder, motorists are no longer permitted to make a left turn onto Chapel Hill Road, from Fairview Avenue, from either direction.

“An ordinance was approved restricting turn movement at the intersection to alleviate safety concerns and reduce the potential for accidents. Motorists wishing to travel south on Chapel Hill Road will need to do so, using the roundabout. Motorists on West Fairview Avenue wishing to turn north onto Chapel Hill Road will need to access Chapel Hill Road using Reed Avenue. Signage has been installed at the intersection.”