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Lake County DOT plans road reconstruction

North Chicago public works employees fill potholes 14th Street North Chicago March. | Sun-Times Medifile

North Chicago public works employees fill potholes on 14th Street in North Chicago in March. | Sun-Times Media file

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Informational open house

An informational open house on the proposed reconstruction of 14th Street in North Chicago and Waukegan will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. June 26 at the Greenbelt Cultural Center, 1215 Green Bay Road, North Chicago. Notification for handicapped accessibility must be made by June 24.

For more information, contact Thomas Somodji, Lake County Division of Transportation, at (847) 377-7400 or via email,

Updated: August 21, 2013 2:43AM

North Chicagoan Gilbert Vela blames 14th Street, among other aging area roads for the suspension and alignment problems on his 2001 Chevy Yukon.

“It’s real bad,” said Vela as he looked at the crumbling pavement on 14th, one of North Chicago’s main east-west thoroughfares, just before the city launched its annual springtime patch-a-pothole marathon. Vela said that he hasn’t seen a serious repair of the roadway since he moved to the area in 1981.

The Lake County Division of Transportation announced this week a full reconstruction for the worst portion of the road it owns. It will seek public input at a meeting to be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, at the Greenbelt Cultural Center in North Chicago.

What the county hasn’t announced is that the work won’t get underway until 2018.

“We just hope the project can get done sooner than what they’re currently projecting,” said Josh Wheeler, North Chicago public works director and city engineer. “The road is in poor condition. Reconstruction is definitely what we need to do and we’re very happy the county will be doing that.”

Lake County DOT is now doing a preliminary engineering study for the rebuild of the street from Green Bay Road east to Jackson Street. It previously reconstructed the western part of 14th Street, known as Pulaski Road. Fourteenth, which ends at Sheridan Road, is the dividing line between North Chicago to the south and Waukegan to the north, from Dugdale Road to Jackson Street.

While Lake County DOT did not immediately return a phone call seeking cost estimates for the work, North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham said it will be expensive.

“It’s a total reconstruction, which means sewer lines and water lines have to be redone,” he said. “When you get down there and start digging, some pipes are only held together because dirt is holding them.”

Rockingham compared the project to the more than year-long $14 million re-do of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, completed in 2010. He said it will require a mix of funding from county, state and federal sources.

“We’re working with CMAP (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning) to acquire dollars also,” Rockingham said.

Fourteenth Street has for many years required costly Bandaids.

“The biggest problem is the water line — every winter we have to repair it,” Rockingham said. “And every time you cut into the road, that’s another fault.”

Wheeler said there will be a push to include new sidewalks and traffic light improvements.

“Sidewalks are going to be a big part of this,” he said. “I see a lot of pedestrians on the north side of the road where there is no sidewalk.”

Additional signals at 14th and Jackson are needed, Wheeler said, because the school district (187) plans to station more crossing guards at the intersection.

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