State announces official agreement on widening of Willow Road in Northfield
Northfield trustees voted Tuesday on agreement with IDOT over widening Willow from two to four lanes, ending the long controversy.Mid-morning traffic along Willow Road in Northfield. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 17, 2012 10:26PM
NORTHFIELD — In a release sent Friday afternoon, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced that an official agreement has been struck to move ahead with a widening project along Northfield’s portoin of Willow Road.
Northfield officials signed off on the agreement earlier this month.
“Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider and Northfield President Fred Gougler, after extensive collaboration between state and local officials, announced they have formally approved an agreement to move forward with a project that will improve safety and mobility on Willow Road between Waukegan Road and the Edens Expressway while preserving the community’s unique characteristics. The $35 million project, made possible by Governor Pat Quinn’s six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, will begin in early 2013 and create an estimated 455 construction jobs.
“‘This agreement demonstrates our commitment to working with local communities to give them a voice in the planning process,’” Secretary Schneider said. “‘Improving safety is the top priority at IDOT. As we proceed toward construction on this important project, we look forward to continuing our successful working relationship with Northfield.’
“The plan reached between IDOT and Northfield is the result of a thorough public outreach and planning process that began in 2009, following decades of discussion on how to address growing safety and operational concerns along Willow Road. The approach was based on the principles of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) planning and relied heavily on input from residents with diverse perspectives to ensure the project “fit” into context of the community. Special attention was paid to pedestrian needs, community aesthetics and the environment.
“‘I would like to acknowledge the extensive efforts of the many community members from Northfield, Glenview, Northbrook and Winnetka who participated throughout the CSS process,’” President Gougler said. “‘Their dedication to addressing safety concerns for both pedestrians and motorists, as well as the need to preserve the residential and aesthetic character of our community, deserves our deepest appreciation.’
“After a dozen Community Advisory Group meetings and several additional meetings with the Northfield community, the plan that emerged will improve two miles of Willow Road by adding a second lane in each direction with slightly narrower lanes to minimize the roadway’s footprint, installing a landscaped median and reducing the speed limit to 30 mph. Traffic signals will be modernized and pedestrian crossing signals added to connect Willow and Clarkson parks.
“Sidewalks will be built on both sides of Willow Road, which may include decorative brick pavers in the commercial center of Northfield. Street lighting also is proposed at several of the intersections. Drainage will be improved throughout the corridor by installing new storm sewers that are compatible with the village’s long-range drainage improvement plans.
“‘What happens on Willow Road affects not just Northfield but all the neighboring communities in the North Shore,’” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), who played a leading role in bringing about the negotiated agreement. “‘I congratulate President Gougler, his fellow trustees and staff for their leadership as we finally close the book on the decades-long debate over the future of this important regional roadway. I am confident that the new configuration of Willow Road will balance the need for safety and mobility with the preservation of Northfield’s residential character, while also providing critical stormwater and drainage improvements throughout the corridor.
“‘I’m also grateful to Governor Quinn, Secretary Schneider and her dedicated team for their tireless and skilled efforts in working with all the interested parties to achieve this historic agreement.’
“The state’s estimated $33.7 million portion of the project is from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program. The village is contributing a maximum of $1.3 million, which may be reduced through an Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant. The tentative completion date for the entire project is late 2014.