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Moran: The light at the end of the angry traffic tunnel

Even in a summer that has only seen four days in the 90s and none in the 100s, it has been a long and hot one in the center of the county, where multiple road projects on and around Washington Street have jammed up the logs.

First of all, Washington has been closed to through traffic since March 31 between Hainesville Road on the east and Cedar Lake Road on the west, part of a $6 million reconstruction and widening project that is so significant it has its own website (www.washingtonstreetinfo.com).

That project is taking place at the same time as the $4.7 million sewer work/rebuilding of Hart Road just to the west and, of course, the $30.8 million Rollins Road Gateway overhaul is part of the landscape to the north.

All of this has conspired to make the intersection of Route 120 and Hainesville Road an angry one, since that’s where most of the detour traffic ends up, one way or the other. Route 120 in that area is never a smooth sail, but the westbound backups have been so bad that you’ll find them at unusual times, like after sunset and on Sunday afternoons.

Well, there is suddenly some light at the end of this tunnel. The Lake County Division of Transportation announced last week that Washington will be re-opened to through traffic the week of July 21, which a check of the calendar reveals to be next week.

“The closure has allowed the contractor to install and construct the water main, drainage, aggregate base, curbs and most of the pavement,” according to a DOT statement, which could be read as both an explanation and a request for forgiveness.

“The contractor will continue to work on the project through mid-August placing the final surface, remaining sidewalks, and installation of landscaping. This will be done under one lane traffic control using flaggers during the day as necessary.”

But wait, this just in to our newsroom — a check of the aforementioned website reveals that this grand re-opening is scheduled specifically for July 24. Daily lane closures to wrap up final work is slated to run for 20 working days after July 25.

Back in April, it was observed in this space that the road would be closed for four months, or “until the corn is knee-high.” I was both right and wrong in this case, since it did take about that long, but a rainy summer has the corn chin high on Joakim Noah.

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