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Dan Moran: Traffic jams for unsuspecting drivers

Updated: September 22, 2012 6:21AM

Like most followers of traffic reports on old-fashioned “terrestrial radio,” I get a bang out of the phrase “moving roadwork.” When the stern-voiced speed reader mentions something about “moving roadwork on the Kennedy,” it sounds like he’s describing a construction project that produces an emotional response, with motorists being moved to tears by its practical beauty.

But, as we all know, moving roadwork really means a traffic jam that can’t be planned against. It will sneak up on you, jump you and bring your day to an unscheduled halt.

That was the case Monday for unsuspecting drivers on Route 120 in the Hainesville/Round Lake Park metropolitan area during the noon hour. Crews had the major two-lane roadway down to one lane while they performed spot repairs on the shoulder near the Metra/Milwaukee District North railroad crossing and also on a rather massive and old bubble of buckled asphalt at the intersection with Porter Road.

Judging from the eastbound backup that went beyond a half-mile and the westbound backup that appeared to stretch into the state of Michigan, it would appear that motorists didn’t see any of this coming. I certainly didn’t — and I had actually read the news release from the Illinois Department of Transportation last month announcing “intermittent resurfacing on various routes in western Lake County.”

Sure enough, reading the fine print of the release, it mentioned that the nine stretches of roadway targeted in the $1.9 million package included “Route 120 from Route 45 to Route 12/59.” True, that is 8.5 miles, and it is also true that the work was projected to take place between Aug. 20 and Nov. 20, but I guess I should have planned to use an alternate route between now and Thanksgiving Week just to play it safe.

For the record, I can attest that the two specific jobs featured on Monday needed to get done, and I suppose the time to do “moving roadwork” is in the middle of the day. In fact, I would encourage IDOT to go ahead and repave the whole roadway along that entire stretch while they’re at it. Dream big.

By the way, for anyone driving in Mundelein this week, be advised that Route 176 is closed for repairs to the Canadian National Railway crossing just east of Route 45 through Friday at 6 p.m. When you can make plans, do so accordingly.

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