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Illinois’ second season causes some driving challenges

We hear it every summer: “Illinois has two seasons – winter and road construction.” “Illinois’ state bird is the construction cone. The state animal is the construction sawhorse. The state tree is the construction barrel.” Apparently, the state color is high-visibility orange.

Earlier this summer, husband Bob complained on Facebook about all the road construction (I think he may have called it “destruction”) that is hindering driving in this county. Someone replied it is not construction, it is “maintenance,” and we should be grateful the road maintenance is being done.

OK. Maintenance/construction. Potato/potahto. A matter of semantics. All I know is there is a lot of road work being done in Lake County. Apparently, the person who insisted it is just “maintenance” does not live here in beautiful downtown Gurnee. They are redoing the 10-year-old Grand Avenue and Route 41 intersection. The railroad bridge is being completely rebuilt, which means a lot of landscaping will have to be done before it is completed sometime during this century.

Our little one-block-long street is closed at Grand. I understand someday it will be open again so we can make a right turn. No left turn because they are putting in a left-turn lane on Grand at 41. Grand Avenue is one lane for at least a mile in both directions. Or maybe it just seems like a mile. We’ve gotten creative if we want to go east into Waukegan; however, there is construction on Washington Street and Belvidere Road. Sometimes, our creative route is just as bad as the Grand Avenue bottleneck we were trying to avoid.

Also, the state and county and some municipalities and the railroad in some parts have chosen to redo/maintain/construct/destruct (take your pick) so all major east/west roads are sporting detours, single lanes, construction barrels, cones, etc.

We don’t have many east/west roads in this county that go all the way across Lake County. Belvidere (aka Route 120) actually goes into McHenry County. Grand Avenue (aka Route 132) goes from the bridge by Waukegan Harbor through Lindenhurst and Lake Villa to Route 59. It then turns left and runs together with Route 59 until 59 veers off to the left and joins Route 12. Grand then goes through the town of Fox Lake and ends at Fox Lake (the lake). Route 173 goes to McHenry County, where it continues to go across the state. Route 176 may not go that far, maybe to McHenry County, maybe not. That’s about it. Other east/west roads do not go completely across the county. And all of these roads are under construction/destruction/maintenance.

Traveling in Lake County is challenging, to say the least. It seems that “you can’t get there from” is a true statement when you get to a detour that seems to lead you into the Twilight Zone! So, if you are heading east or west in Lake County this summer/fall/winter/spring, allow extra time, and I wish you good luck!

Nancy Long writes about Lake County history from her home in Gurnee.

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