Deerfield Road Project Update
To Residents of Riverwoods
On April 18 at 7 PM the Village Board of Trustees hosted a Town Hall meeting at the Village Hall, 300 Portwine Road.
The focus of this meeting was to share information about the status of the Lake County Department of Transportation (LCDOT) Deerfield Road Project and solicit input from residents.
LCDOT has conducted three meetings over the last year with a “Stakeholders Interest Group” (SIG) comprised of stakeholders from Riverwoods as well as outside entities. While these meetings were open to the public, questions and comments were limited to the formal stakeholder group. The Village Board and I thought that a Town Hall meeting would be the best forum to let all Riverwoods residents have an open, interactive, and informative community discussion on the issue.
At this meeting, we updated everyone on the status of the project, explained the expected changes to the roadway, and had a conversation on those areas over which the Village may have some influence with LCDOT. It was an opportunity to ask questions and present your views on those issues that remain unresolved. Below is a summary of what was presented and suggestions received at this meeting.
Construction Start Date
The earliest start date for construction is 2022. It could be delayed further for financial or budgeting reasons or if other projects are delayed or take priority. It is expected to take two years for completion.
Two lanes vs. three lanes
The present expected configuration would be a three-lane road with the center lane used for left turns and emergency vehicle access. There are areas at Milwaukee Avenue and Saunders Road where there may be additional turn lanes.
The present two-lane road would need to be rebuilt because of age and deterioration. If it were reconstructed in its present two-lane configuration the width of the new road would be only one foot narrower than the above three-lane design because of current engineering requirements that have changed since its initial construction.
West of bridge
Deerfield Road is expected to have two eastbound lanes at Milwaukee tapering to one lane at the bridge.
Bridge may be rebuilt to higher elevation. We are not sure if it will remain at two lanes or increased to three.
LCDOT expects to have minimal impact on “taking” of land from private residences and none on the NW corner at Portwine. There will be greater impact for the commercial properties at the West end of Deerfield and at Saunders SE corner.
Brentwood will require a revised traffic flow and parking pattern. The northeast corner at Milwaukee will have a greater impact due to an increased number of lanes and a dedicated long right only turn lane.
This intersection will have the greatest changes. There will be two dedicated left turn lanes and two thru lanes in all four directions. A raised hard median will be present at the North Milwaukee portion preventing Southbound left turns into the commercial area (see below for alternative possibilities).
Dedicated right turn lanes are planned at Northbound Milwaukee onto Deerfield and Westbound Deerfield onto Milwaukee.
Portwine will probably have left turn lanes in both directions. It is very unlikely to have right turn lane going north and none going south due to land preservation restriction at NW corner.
A right turn lane will probably be added going north onto Eastbound Deerfield.
There will not be any designated or marked bike lanes on Deerfield Road. However, the shoulders are wide enough that bikers may use that area.
Multiuse path location
The path will be on the south side of Deerfield Road until Portwine; at which point it will crossover to the north side to connect with the path at Saunders/Riverwoods Road. This configuration permits greater access for residents to the north and allows the crossover to occur at a signaled intersection.
No additional traffic signals are expected. However, the potential intersection at Federal Life and west end of Cube Smart may be engineered at the time of construction for a future traffic signal and full intersection. This will allow for possible residential building on the vacant unincorporated 37 acres as well as an alternative access to the commercial area on the NE corner of Milwaukee and Deerfield.
Curb/gutter vs. shoulder/ditch
The present plan is to have curb and gutter except for possible sections on the North side that will require a dirt shoulder and ditch for drainage.
No sidewalk on the opposite side of the multi-use path is planned. The Village would have to pay for construction and maintain it. We recognize that any future installation of a sidewalk is likely to cost more than if built now.
Traffic control during construction
There will be signs limiting travel on private roads for residents and no thru traffic allowed. Police presence will be at the entrances and exits initially for high visibility with warnings; later on, violations will be ticketed. LCDOT may advise by signage alternative routing. They have said that the road will be open, albeit limited lanes, during construction.
A tree survey will be done when the specific route and construction details are known. We expect significant woodland renovation will be needed. At the present time a financial plan has yet to be determined. Options include Village installation and maintenance, shared cost with the private property owners or another alternative.
At present, the fencing ordinance along Deerfield Road permits six-foot stockade type fencing. There is some concern to avoid Deerfield Road looking like a tunnel with high wooden fencing on both sides. Any change needs to be sensitive to the noise and visual impact on homeowners along Deerfield.
Consideration of underground Commonwealth Edison (CE) utilities were considered. A State Commission has revoked the old agreement for them to bury a minimum footage each year. The cost to bury the utility appears to be extremely high, even if spread out to all Riverwoods users. The Village’s purpose to bury the utilities was to allow the adjacent trees to grow “over” the road leading in time to a more woodland look. There is a different type of pole (Hendrix Pole System) that CE can use in heavily wooded areas that is shorter. This needs to be explored further. An additional concern by CE is the increased cost of repairs with underground placement.
Alternatives to commercial area access at Milwaukee
The entrance to Federal Life and the Village controlled access road across Deerfield may be engineered for future signal installation. This has the added benefit to allow an alternative access to Colonial Court commercial area. There are significant cost considerations as well as routing difficulties and land swaps. This project is being evaluated but may take some time to mature.
A signal at north end of center of Colonial Court is a possibility. This would allow access from southbound traffic on Milwaukee and an exit to the south from Colonial Court. One concern is the short distance between the present signal at Deerfield and a new one just to the north.
After the completion of construction, a study will be performed to evaluate the appropriate speed limit. However, LCDOT has said they are in agreement with the Village that the speed should be no higher than at present and will consider a lower limit if supported by the study.
At the conclusion of construction, the plan is to have no adverse impact on drainage or water accumulation beyond the present levels. They may be able to improve it depending on the engineering.
Water retention areas are being considered at both the Southeast corner on the 5 acres owned by the Village or improving the pond on the west area of Federal Life property. Other alternatives are being evaluated, but require some land swaps and re-routing of traffic in the larger Northeast quadrant.
If water retention ponds are not available, the drainage will be designed as increased underground storage pipes and vaults.
Town Hall Comments:
In general, the project description did not generate much angst. The most common concern was the effect of the road encroaching on individual homeowners along Deerfield Road. This was not unexpected. The issues of fencing and landscaping were introduced and the unresolved problem of how to finance restoration, what part the Village can or should play versus individual homeowners rights and responsibilities. I think the audience understood the sensitivity and complex problems inherent in this area.
Some new and constructive ideas to anticipated problems were expressed. For example:
• Adding the fine’s dollar amount ($120) to the sign limiting access to residents on private streets during construction
• Asking if we can use asphalt instead of concrete for the road to reduce noise levels
• Use of dirt berms instead of fencing to reduce noise and sight lines.
• Asking if Milwaukee Road at or near Busch Parkway can have a “U-turn” capability to allow users of the commercial area on the NE corner of Milwaukee and Deerfield to have a southbound capability if no light is installed at the north end
There seemed to be general acceptance of:
• The three-lane road
• No significant voiced concerns of taking of land recognizing there is a process for compensation and the County’s statement it would be “minimal” in residential areas
• Intersection modifications
• Multiuse path locations
• Traffic signals or lack thereof
• Drainage, water retention areas, or curb/gutter design
• Utility options
• Alternative commercial area access and potential light at Federal Life
• Understood that some issues remain unresolved for now
As new information becomes available, it will be published in the Village Voice and put on the Village website. Some of the unknown elements of the project will become available this summer at SIG #4.