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Kane County roundabout plan backed by state, road planners

Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

CAMPTON HILLS – State transportation planners will be watching one of western Kane County’s busier intersections in coming years to gauge just how area drivers react to the first roundabout intersection to be built on a state highway in the Chicago area.

Next week, the County Board will vote on an agreement with the state of Illinois that would allow the county to use about $2.13 million in state and federal road construction money to reconstruct the intersection of Burlington Road and Route 47.

The Kane County Division of Transportation has worked for years on plans to improve the busy intersection at the northwest edge of Campton Hills.

As traffic at the intersection increased, so, too, did accidents. The Illinois Department of Transportation installed stop signs on Route 47 at the intersection, but that hampered traffic flow.

Traditionally, KDOT would seek to install traffic lights to ease both problems. But county planners instead settled on a plan for a roundabout, which KDOT believes will improve safety, save money and reduce congestion because of its shape. The roundabout would feed traffic through the intersection at reduced speeds in a constant, counterclockwise direction. Under the design, traffic would be fed around a large circle, with oncoming vehicles yielding to those already in the circle.

KDOT Director Carl Schoedel said the roundabout also would be designed to accommodate large vehicles, such as farming implements and semitrailers.

The project would cost the county $308,149.

The proposal drew criticism at a recent County Board committee meeting, at which some board members worried the roundabout would accomplish none of KDOT’s goals.

“I don’t think this is going to move as smoothly as people think,” said board member Cristina Castro, D-Elgin.

The plan has earned the support of IDOT, said John Baczek, section chief for IDOT’s project and environmental studies.

“They [KDOT] went through a process that we supported, and we have concurred with their conclusion,” Baczek said.

He noted roundabouts have been used successfully in other states, including Wisconsin. And Baczek said there are plans in place for other roundabouts in the state’s highway system, including at U.S. 20 and Harmony Road in McHenry County.

“We’re learning more about them [roundabouts], and Kane County decided to add them to the mix of tools at these kinds of intersections,” Baczek said.

He said IDOT does not have a preference for either traffic signals or roundabouts at intersections such as Burlington Road and Route 47.

“We evaluate them on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

But he said IDOT will be interested to see how traffic flows through the Kane County roundabout, should it be constructed as KDOT has planned in coming years.

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