Updated: May 6, 2013 6:28AM
The end is in sight for residents of Frankfort, Mokena and New Lenox, and the drivers who use U.S. 30 through those villages, after two years of teeth-grinding frustration and delays with the project to widen the famous highway.
Now, it’s Plainfield residents and drivers who get to experience (again) the short-term pain for long-term gain that’s the case with every major road improvement project.
They surely aren’t happy with the prospect, having endured the Illinois 59 reconstruction that had downtown Plainfield a traffic nightmare for about three years until fall 2011.
But we urge them to hang in there. Such construction is an ugly side of population and business growth, which always comes well before the roads get improved. Also, the U.S. 30 project through Plainfield will take less time than did the Illinois 59 monster.
And when it’s done, the smoother traffic flow will be a delight — as those who travel U.S. 30 to the east are getting a taste of these days as they enjoy four lanes of traffic, albeit still through a construction zone.
The improved U.S. 30 from Interstate 55 to Illinois 59 will be widened to four lanes with a center turn lane from just west of I-55 to Renwick Road. From Renwick to Illinois 59, it will remain two lanes but will get a center turn lane, mostly because that stretch is bordered by a cemetery and the Lake Renwick Nature Preserve.
The center lanes will be a godsend because traffic volume on U.S. 30 now makes left turns difficult, causing backups to form quickly.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is targeting next year for the start of the $26 million project, but it could begin late this year.
As for the nine-mile segment of U.S. 30 from Harlem Avenue to Williams Street in New Lenox, the major roadwork has been completed. The final phase consists of installing curbs, gutters, medians, traffic signals, sound walls and landscaping — all to wrap up this summer, about a year behind the original schedule.
The affected areas have seen huge growth during the past quarter century while the historic highway remained much as it was in the 1940s. These improvements to U.S. 30 are obviously long overdue and welcome, as they remind us of the virtue of patience.