We have a few more updates for you regarding the railroad crossing signals at Rollins Road. A signal cable between Rollins and Hook was severed, so the signal gates cannot function normally. The railroad is treating this as an emergency situation, so it will be repaired as soon as practical. In the meantime, SB trains have been slowed during off work hours to allow the detection equipment and the crossing to function normally. During working days, the railroad will have flaggers stationed at the crossing to stop cars and allow trains to run at normal speeds.
Work is continuing on the soil retention system. The first level of ground anchors is nearly complete. Some storm sewer and water main work may begin in the next week or two if weather allows.
Progress has slowed somewhat, and we now expect the steel for the new rail bridge to be placed in late April.
Below are answers to additional questions that have been answered by the project engineer:
Why is the new pavement so bumpy/rough?
Please keep in mind, the new pavement you are driving on is only temporary. It is only intended to be in place until this summer. As a result, the asphalt pavement and the stone bedding beneath it are thinner (therefore less costly) than you would normally find on a road of this size. Our best guess based on past experience, it that the moisture in the soil beneath the road is freezing and expanding. Because the pavement is thinner, it is more flexible and unable to bridge the unevenly expanded soil below. Once we experience a sustained thaw, we expect most of the bumps will being settling out.
Can’t the bumps be fixed now?
Asphalt plants in the area do not usually stay open during the winter, since asphalt is particularly weather sensitive. As a result, it would be difficult to find material to resurface the bumpy pavement. Another option that’s been tried in the past is to mill the high spots down. Unfortunately, it’s been found that when the ground thaws, these now become low spots that collect water. With the freeze-thaw cycle we usually see in the spring, these can turn into nasty potholes. At this point, we feel the best course of action is to wait until spring and see if the problem corrects itself. Any significant problems that remain could then be safely addressed until the new, much studier permanent pavement is installed.
The signals at IL 83 and Rollins seem too short, especially the left turns. Can the timing be adjusted?
As part of the contract, a signal consultant has been retained for this project. Their role is to examine the traffic patterns at different times of days and adjust the signal timing to allow traffic to flow as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, there are times that there just isn’t enough capacity to take time from one direction without having a far worse impact on another direction. Also, when a train passes through, the timing of the signals changes to allow Rollins/IL 83 to re-sync with the surrounding intersections. As a result, this can shorten the duration of the left turns until it can be re-synced. This process may take several cycles, which can seem frustratingly long. The consultant has responded to the concerns we’ve heard and has re-evaluated and adjusted the timing where possible.
[Details above are from Mark S. Molnar, PE | Resident Project Manager]