Updated: March 3, 2014 4:30PM
Homer Glen resident Vytas Urbonas said the future widening of 143rd Street near his home will drastically impact his life.
“It’s obvious that having four lanes of traffic behind my home will lower my property value,” he said. “More traffic, more noise, more pollution will all affect the value of my property and the quality of life.”
Urbonas was one of many Homer Glen residents and business owners who attended an open house Wednesday where Will County officials explained the preliminary plans to widen 143rd Street from Bell Road to Lemont Road. The two-lane street will be widened to two lanes in each direction with two left-turn lanes at Bell Road.
A controversial aspect of the project is an 18-foot-wide raised median, which has drawn sharp criticism from residents, business owners and Homer Glen officials.
“It seems like they are creating more hazards than they are eliminating,” resident Rick Rigoni said.
He said the county has indicated that drivers will be able to make U-turns to reach destinations on the other side of 143rd Street, but that seems more dangerous to him, especially in the winter.
Lynn McGary, a member of the Homer Glen Plan Commission, said the median will hurt businesses and act as a deterrent for future businesses whose access will be restricted.
“The widening of 143rd Street will be good for the community,” McGary said. “But the installation of an unmountable median will negatively impact the future growth in the corridor and the residents and businesses that are currently there.”
Homer Glen Mayor Jim Daley as well as Will County Board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, also opposed the raised median.
“I can’t think of one redeeming feature of raised barrier medians,” Balich said, adding that he and county board member Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, plan to fight that feature of the project.
Christina Kupkowski, a project manager for the Will County Highway Department, said a barrier median is a safety feature that reduces fatal accidents, including head-on and left-turn collisions.
While the median is the top complaint she has heard about the 143rd Street project, other residents are concerned about traffic noise, Kupkowski said, adding that noise abatement walls may be considered.
Some residents said Wednesday that they were concerned with the amount of land to be taken for the wider street and the amount of trees that would be removed.
The county is in the process of gauging public comments before tweaking the plan and bringing it back to residents through a public hearing in late summer or early fall, Kupkowski said.
Construction is scheduled to begin in either 2016 or 2017 with the widening of 143rd Street from Bell to Parker roads. Widening from Parker to Creme roads will start in 2017 or 2018, and the final stage from Creme to Lemont roads will begin in either 2018 or 2019, Kupkowski said.