Darrell Road roundabout opens to traffic ahead of schedule

By Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media

An engineer’s rendering shows the realignment of Darrell and Dowell roads, correcting an angled crossroad intersection which had safety issues. (Photo courtesy of the Lake County Division of Transportation)

The first of three roundabouts being built by the Lake County Division of Transportation along Darrell Road has opened to traffic, ahead of schedule. Connecting with the intersections of Case and Neville roads, the new construction will ease congestion caused by stop-sign back-ups and safety issues from poor sightlines.

Darrell Road runs from Wauconda to Lakemoor on the western edge of Lake County. Work began earlier this year to correct the staggered intersections by straightening a 1.3-mile stretch of the main route. With endpoints at routes 176 and 120, LCDOT studies have pegged vehicle traffic at 10,000 users daily. It is expected to double in 20 years.

“This is our ninth roundabout and helps facilitate traffic flow while reducing serious and fatal crashes by 80 percent,” said project manager Julian Rozwadowski. “LCDOT is thrilled with the early opening of the new Darrell Road roundabout, which realigns the (three) intersections.

“The goal of this project is to improve mobility and safety along Darrell Road, which serves as a key connection between McHenry County and Lake County,” he said.

This is the first phase of a two-part project that will see similar roundabouts built at Darrell Road’s intersections with Dowell Road and Fisher Road. The County Board set aside $8.1 million for the first phase, and preliminary engineering began in 2014. The most serious issue is with Dowell Road, which enters at a 45-degree angle.

“The two roundabouts are slated to be built in 2024,” said Rozwadowski. “It is pending project readiness.”

Although an intergovernmental agreement is in place with Wauconda Township for maintenance and snowplowing, updated jurisdictional arrangements are still being completed.

“We had to cede the right-of-ways and easements for them to do the roundabout,” said Scott Weisbruch, the township’s highway commissioner. “We haven’t gotten together yet to discuss the boundaries, what areas will be plowed, and how they will accommodate us.

“I think it looks real good,” he said. “It’s a big improvement, and I believe it will decrease traffic congestion with the long lines on Case and Neville roads. The roundabouts also force you to reduce speed, when you enter, and that aids the safety concerns.”

Prior to the project getting underway, there were four public hearings to determine the best option. The roundabout system was chosen for the three intersections. LCDOT intends to realign the path of Dowell Road and the roundabout will eliminate the skewed intersection.

The Fisher Road roundabout will replace an existing one-way stop sign traffic control.

LCDOT plans also include a bike path along the eastern side of the Darrell Road corridor, from Fisher Road, south to the newly completed roundabout at Case and Neville roads.