Willow Road Study Moves Closer to Design Phase
At Thursday's study meeting, IDOT introduced alternative design solutions that include not touching Willow Road at all.
The two most vocal villages in the Willow Road debate – Northfield and Glenview – continue to loudly advocate their preferences: Northfield wants the three-lane plan the state approved in 2005, and Glenview wants the 1.2 mile stretch of road in question to be expanded to four or five lanes.
Meanwhile the Illinois Department of Transportation project team assigned to study the road and plan the new design, led by Pete Harmet, has moved along with the process of looking at alternatives beyond adding one or two lanes to the road.
At Thursday’s seventh Community Advisory Group meeting, IDOT introduced 15 potential alternatives for the road design, which include:
- Adding a middle turning lane or median on Willow Road (similar to the plan Northfield has been advocating)
- Adding two lanes to Willow Road with a middle turning lane or median (similar to the plan Glenview has been advocating)
- Adding no lanes to Willow but a roundabout
- Adding a travel lane on Lake Avenue
- Adding a travel lane on Dundee Road
- Adding a full interchange between Interstate 294 and Lake Avenue
- Adding a full interchange between I-294 and Dundee Road
- Adding ramps at various points along Interstate 94
Members on the CAG came up with other potential alternatives such as making improvements to the road without adding lanes or adding an odd number of lanes to make the road “unbalanced.”
“It comes down to evaluating all the options,” Harmet said. “We will compare all alternatives to a no-build option.”
Harmet said all alternatives will be studied and analyzed for flaws, environmental impact, cost and feasibility. At the next CAG meeting in March, members will be given time to comment on each alternative, followed by a public meeting held in April, when IDOT will show the public what alternatives the CAG has devised.
Fearing their input won’t carry over from the March to April meetings, nearly all the CAG members individually requested that IDOT postpone the April public meeting so the CAG has a chance to boil the list down to the most optimal alternatives.
“This is not the steering committee,” Harmet responded. “[The CAG] is just part of the process. We’re sharing information with the public to get their feedback.”
He said he would consider a later date for the public meeting.
Also introduced were potential “tools” that can be implemented on Willow to maximize pedestrian safety, such as high visibility crosswalks, motion-sensor crosswalk signals, count-down crosswalks, turn restrictions, more visible transit stops and under- or overpasses.
Northfield Village Manager Stacy Sigman requested that reducing speed on the road and narrowing the lanes be considered in the final planning design.
Hallie Bodman, representing Northfield on the CAG, requested that a future meeting – when temperatures are not below zero – be held along Willow Road itself, so everyone can put the road design in context of the actual road.
“We are very familiar with the road, but maybe others are less familiar,” she said. “As we discuss further tools, we need to understand what is out there.”
Harmet agreed and said a future meeting will be held along Willow Road.