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City hopes Highway 14 work will begin this year

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Woodstock officials are hoping a Highway 14 widening project will begin as scheduled this year, but Mayor Brian Sager said no official timetable has been received.

The Illinois Department of Transportation plans to widen the current two lanes from Woodstock to Crystal Lake to five lanes — two lanes going each way and turn lanes where needed. A median would be in place where turn lanes are not needed. A bicycle lane connecting Woodstock to McHenry County College and then with  the Prairie Trail system is included.

“As of last week, the letting of the project has been pushed back until August,” said Al Wilson, city engineer. “Apparently there are some funding issues that still need to be worked out at the state level.”

Sager said he is “cautiously optimistic” the project will begin in August but said the current financial situation in the state means it is not certain.

“If it does not begin this summer, we’re incredibly hopeful it will begin next construction season,” Sager said.

When construction begins, it is anticipated the entire project will take about 18 months. Sager said the state has indicated it would begin construction in Crystal Lake and work its way toward Woodstock.

While the state is hurting financially, Sager said IDOT has “done a pretty remarkable job” communicating with the three governing bodies the project encompasses — Woodstock, Crystal Lake and McHenry County.

While IDOT had delayed the project as it acquired land from private owners, Sager said most issues have been resolved.

Sager said Woodstock residents desire an efficient corridor, but added safety is a major concern on the roadway. He said ease of access to Centegra Hospital-Woodstock is an issue. Currently the highway narrows to a single lane before reaching the hospital. He said ingress and egress elements of the plan also will improve safety.

In addition to increased safety and efficiency, Sager lauded the plan’s bicycle lane. He said the city has made it a priority to increase connectivity to the surrounding region at all levels. He said the bicycle lane will help accomplish another type of connectivity that is positive from environmental and health perspectives.