The 2012 Cook County Highway Plan will improve 70 miles of roads in more than 30 suburban municipalities at a cost of $65 million dollars. The 27 county roadway projects scheduled for this construction season are spread across the area—from north suburban Des Plaines to Lynwood in the far south suburbs. The Highway Department’s two biggest jobs this year are the 88th Avenue reconstruction project in Hickory Hills and Palos Hills, and the Joe Orr Road project in Lynwood and Ford Heights, which involves a nearly two-mile reconstruction and realignment of the roadway.
For the first time, the county will post user-friendly highway information online for residents, which can be accessed from the county’s homepage at www.cookcountyil.gov . The site includes an online map that allows residents to see where highway projects are located—and their current status.
“The highway plan is part of my administration’s efforts to improve services, transparency and accountability to our residents,” President Preckwinkle said. “We’re going to make it easier for motorists by putting ongoing roadway projects at their fingertips. As we move forward, we’re continually coming up with ways to make road construction season navigable for drivers.”
The Highway Department has also made important operational improvements over the past year to make programs more effective and efficient.
Under the leadership of new Highway Superintendent John Yonan, the department has greatly improved project management capabilities though the creation of high-tech software programs in order to ensure projects are completed on time. In addition, the department has expanded coordination with communities to minimize the local impact of construction. From design to completion, the Highway Department works closely with stakeholders impacted by the project, including local businesses, community groups and municipal officials. The county has also launched joint planning efforts with other transportation and regional planning agencies to improve coordination and leverage existing funding.
An example of this is the Canadian National Railroad Intermodal facility in Harvey. Next year, the county Highway Department will restore 1.5 miles of Center Street, which leads to that facility. This crucial project will increase the street’s capacity to handle more traffic associated with the railroad’s terminal expansion, leading to further expansion and more economic development for Harvey.
“Next year I plan to implement even more improvements,” President Preckwinkle said. “My administration is working toward a new spirit of regional cooperation. In 2013, we will create the county’s first comprehensive Highway Transportation Plan that addresses regional transportation needs.”
The 2013 Plan will be part of county’s long-term effort to partner with the surrounding counties and the state of Illinois to coordinate projects and long-term planning in the region.