The Route 64 reconstruction project in St. Charles is on schedule, city and state officials assured residents and business owners during a meeting Tuesday night at City Hall.
Route 64 should open up to four-lane traffic as scheduled in mid-November, according to Illinois Department of Transportation Resident Engineer Dave Cuthbertson, who said periodic lane closures will continue through the winter months as work continues, but that the closures will not be as considerable as they have during the warm-weather months.
Cuthbertson said the massive, $49.2 million reconstruction project should wrap up in August 2013.
IDOT’s Cuthbertson and St. Charles Engineering Division Manager James Bernahl fielded questions from residents and business owners during the hourlong open house, which was held in the St. Charles City Council Chambers.
Cuthbertson highlighted much of the work that has been completed, as well as laying out some of the work that crews expect to complete in the winter months, before the final leg of construction begins in ernest come spring.
Bernahl, who has worked to keep business owners informed about the project, learned during the hearing that some business owners continue to be frustrated. Some of that are issues that IDOT’s Cuthbertson and the contractor promised to work to improve.
Specifically, businesses owners said they have learned to fear the start of trench work on their driveway aprons, which for many cuts off access for their customers. It is particularly brutal, one businessman said, when the backhoe arrives in the afternoon or on a Friday. The workers leave when the day is over — regardless of whether access to the business has been restored.
Cuthbertson urged businesses to post their questions on IDOT’s web page for the project, and the contractor also assured the business owners such situations will be corrected.
Cuthbertson outlined some of the work that has been completed on the project. From 7th to 13th avenues, he said, pavement is complete, curb and gutter work is done and sidewalk is being replaced. Workers are preparing to do landscape and lighting in that area.
From 13th to Dunham Road, he said, Nicor is relocating a gas main. As a result of that, he said, no more work is planned on the north side from Dunham to Fieldgate for rest of this year.
Storm sewer work is nearly done in front of the Charlestowne Mall. Cuthbertson said there was additional utility work and and more storm sewer relocation work than anticipated. But the last of storm sewer work was done Tuesday, and paving is to begin in that area next.
Cuthbertson said the contractor will be trying in the coming days to get switched over to new pavement from Kautz to near Route 59.
During the winter months, he said, lighting work will be ongoing on the outside of the roadway and should have little effect on traffic. But there will be pavement removal and other work in February and March near the bridge.
New concrete can be poured during winter with proper precautions, he said.
In the meantime, some of the businesses — particularly car dealerships — pleaded for greater visibility and access during the remainder of construction. Representatives of St. Charles Chrysler complained that a big pile of dirt fronting their property has hurt business — “If you can’t see headlights and bumpers, they’re not coming in,” one said.
Cuthbertson said that issue is being addressed.
He also noted the driveway entrances along Route 64 will be stabilized with asphalt during the winter months.
Then, early in the spring, the contractor will come back in to complete road widening, curb and gutter and other work.
Others attending the meeting expressed concern about the differences in elevations between the east- and westbound lanes. Cuthbertson said safety concerns in those areas are being addressed with signs and anchored barricades.
Next spring and summer, Cuthbertson said, work from 7th Avenue to Dunham will shift to north side of road. Some storm sewer, widening and some driveway reconstruction will be done, and then overlay work will be done on the road.
One business owner urged the city and IDOT to consider a big event once the project is complete — essentially to let people know “St. Charles is back!”
Work on the project began in 2011.