Round Lake-area realignment of Cedar Lake Road gets funding boost

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Navigating Cedar Lake Road into, through, around and out of downtown Round Lake is a challenge local, county, state and federal officials have tried to solve for decades.
For 32 years, Round Lake worked with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to develop a solution to realign Cedar Lake Road to make it easier for people who live, work and visit there. In 2012, Lake County assumed control of the effort.
“There are a lot of bottlenecks and zig-zags through downtown Round Lake,” Kevin
Carrier, the assistant county engineer, said.
“Dollars have always been the problem, and now it’s solved,” he added, referring to an $18.8 million federal grant.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the award Wednesday in Washington, putting the $42 million project into a position to start the necessary engineering and begin construction of the two-year effort in 2027.
Of the $42 million needed to complete the project, Carrier said $31 million is coming from the federal government and Lake County is paying for the rest.
Carrier said Round Lake officials began working with IDOT in 1980 to find a way to realign the road. In 2012, this particular section of Clear Lake Road came under the county’s jurisdiction, and officials there began working on ideas and funding.
As U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Highland Park, got to know the Round Lake area, he also realized the importance of making Clear Lake Round easier to navigate. He got $4 million approved two years ago to help. The new grant made it a reality.
“This is a big deal,” Schneider said Friday. “You see the importance of this as the center of the community. A lot of people were working together. You see how this is really transformative.”
Working with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates, Schneider said the trio collaborated with county officials to get the grant. It is part of President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
More than a project to realign Cedar Lake Road, Carrier said the multimodal effort involves creating a mobility hub involving Metra and Pace, as well as facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.
“We’re going to modernize the Metra station to create more of a mobility hub,” Carrier said. “It won’t be just a place where you park, get on the train and leave. It will be multimodal with bike and pedestrian accommodations. We’ll coordinate with Pace for pickups and drop-offs from the train. There’ll be a kiss-and-ride lot.”
Realigning Cedar Lake Road from Hart to Nipperink roads, the project will include new intersections, a bicycle path, sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, according to a press release from the county.
Even the Lake County Forest Preserves District is involved. Carrier said the portion of the Millennium Trail that goes through the area will be completed so hikers can safely get across the railroad tracks.
Before construction can start, Carrier said the next two years will be spent doing the detailed engineering necessary, acquiring any needed land and coordinating with all involved government agencies.
Both Schneider and Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart said the Clear Lake Road realignment project will bring growth to the downtown area, along with business development.
“It’s a huge deal,” Hart said. “This is an important project improving and enhancing economic development, safety and transportation for a great number of people who live and work in Lake County.”
Since he began representing the Round Lake area, Schneider said the project will improve the downtown area leading to business development and more jobs.
“This will improve everybody’s lives,” he said. “The new sidewalks will make it easier to access the area. It’s good for everybody, and it’s good for the community.”

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