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Big-ticket phases loom for Rollins Road overhaul

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Updated: December 2, 2013 12:40PM

For a project officially described as only 2 percent complete, the $30.8 million overhaul of Rollins Road at Route 83 is already living up to its billing as the largest road-improvement project in Lake County history.

In the past week, crews from Libertyville-based Lake County Grading have started laying asphalt for a temporary bypass roadway, which will move traffic on Rollins around the current crossing at the Canadian National Railway tracks for much of the next 12 months.

Just south of that work zone, motorists on Clarendon Drive have been detoured since Oct. 18 around the intersection with Hainesville Road, a 21-day closure that will allow for the realignment of Hainesville at Rollins.

And, just to the west, flashing signs warn motorists that an existing traffic signal was turned off Oct. 21 at Mallard Creek Drive, an access point to the nearby Regal Theaters, among other businesses. Mallard Creek traffic is now controlled by a stop sign, allowing free movement on Rollins.

A bit more than two months into a planned year-long project, all of the stage-one work is a prelude to the first big-ticket item on the list: a two-week shutdown of Rollins west of Route 83 that is scheduled to start Nov. 11. The closure will give time for Canadian National to install temporary rail lines across the four-lane bypass.

The posted detour will use Washington Street, diverting through traffic to Washington via Route 45 on the east and Hainesville Road on the west.

The primary goal of the project is to construct a bridge for the railroad, which currently delivers 50 trains each day across Rollins. The roadway, which carries 24,000 vehicles daily, will be lowered to allow installation of bridge decks next spring and summer. Concrete abutments for the bridge will start going within the month.

The first stage, which began in mid-August with some utility work and grading, has also included the pouring of concrete for new entrances to both the Rollins Plaza and Mallard Creek shopping centers.

Other noticeable changes to the landscape around the construction zone include the demolition of several buildings on the northeast and southeast corners of Rollins and Route 83, structures that previously housed a PNC Bank and Payless Shoes.

On the southwest corner, the east side of Gateway Park — which runs parallel to Rollins between Hainesville Road and East End Avenue — has become a staging area for construction vehicles. Part of the park and a walking path have been dug out to allow for the bypass lanes, and a new asphalt path has been put in place.

While the project, like most construction work in the Midwest, will be largely dormant through the winter, more logistically-ambitious developments are on the schedule for spring and summer 2014. Among them are installation of a temporary bridge to carry Route 83 over Rollins, which could close traffic for up to five days in August.

For regular updates on the project, including links to 24-hour video images of the work zone from two directions, visit Rollins Road Gateway on Facebook.

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