Over 40 years ago I noticed a lot–hundreds of acres–of land changing hands west of Richmond. I was McHenry County Treasurer and my office changed the addresses on the Address-o-Graph plates. We got the deed transfers which had the new addresses to which the tax bills should be sent. All the deeds went to secret land trusts.
Rumor was that Arlington Park Racetrack owner Marge Everett was buying up land for a new racetrack. It would be where not-yet-built roads would converge between Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago.
Wisconsin built roads that went—just coincidentally, of course—to Richmond.
And, in Illinois the Illinois Department of Transportation bought the land to build a four-lane highway to Richmond. No money to build the highway, of course.
The desire was so great from the people who want to turn McHenry County into DuPage County that McHenry County Republican Party Chairman Al Jourdan got the highway (FAP 420) included in the list of highways to be taken over by the Illinois Tollway in the late 1990’s.
None of us representing McHenry County in the Illinois House knew anything about the effort. All of us voted against the proposal, as did State Senator Dick Klemm. The result is that the highway is on the Tollway to-do list, but not very high up.
In any event, Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at Memorial Hall, 10308 Main St Richmond, 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM, the plan will be presented to the public.
No formal presentation, but I would imagine that engineers will be present to answer questions.
Here’s the background information on the Richmond Bypass web site, which is very much a work in progress, not even having an easy to find map yet under the “map” button.
US 12 is a part of a regional transportation route that connects suburban northeastern Illinois with travel destinations in southern Wisconsin.
Over three decades ago IDOT, recognizing roadway capacity deficiencies of US 12 and regional transportation needs, purchased significant portions of the right-of-way from the Wisconsin state line south and east to Lake County.
It is now designated as FAP 420. In 1999, traffic volumes on US 12 through Richmond prompted a study to widen the existing two-lane roadway to three lanes. Given the physical constraints of the existing right-of-way and short term nature of that option, it was determined that another solution was needed.
The strong preference throughout Richmond was for a Richmond Bypass that would address existing system capacity demands, local transportation needs, regional travel patterns and system linkages. At the same time, it was determined to be extremely important to include efforts to preserve the economic vitality of the downtown area and promote Richmond as a visitor destination.
Here’s more history and a pitch for the project:
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) acquired right of way for a future north-south expressway west of Richmond in the 1960s.
The future expressway was planned to be an extension of IL 53. The future roadway plans also included an east-west expressway from Richmond to Waukegan.
The north-south expressway west of Richmond was planned to intersect with US 12 in Wisconsin.
In the 1970s, Wisconsin upgraded US 12 to a 4-lane divided expressway – essentially their portion of the planned north-south expressway improvement.
This north-south corridor was identified in the first Chicago area regional transportation plan in 1962.
Although the entire length of right of way was not purchased, IDOT did purchase a portion of the corridor west of Richmond between Glacial Park and the Wisconsin state line. [Originally FAP 420 right of-way ran through the McHenry County Conservation District, but the legislative delegation convinced IDOT to move it away from the kames.]
In 1999, IDOT evaluated widening US 12 to a 3-lane roadway (one through lane in each direction separated by a two-way left turn lane) from the intersection of IL 31 to the Wisconsin state line. Due to concerns raised by the community and local officials, the widening plans were rejected.
To provide limited congestion relief, improvements to the US 12 intersections at Tryon Grove Road and IL 31 were studied and implemented.
In August 2002, the Village of Richmond and the Urban Land Institute hosted a two day panel discussion regarding future land development in the context of a new bypass. The panel acknowledged the need for a bypass to alleviate traffic congestion. Concerns were raised about the long-term economic stability of the downtown area and the potential impacts to farmlands and environmentally sensitive areas associated with the bypass.
Residents and local officials supported completion of an engineering study to evaluate a bypass and its potential benefits and impacts. An important goal of the study was to identify alternative alignments that balance the anticipated rapid growth of Richmond against the need to accommodate existing, interim, and design year traffic.
In 2003, the Village of Richmond, McHenry County and IDOT conducted the US 12 Bypass Feasibility Study, which included extensive public input. The majority of local residents favored a bypass to reduce congestion and delays, remove through truck traffic from downtown, and preserve the historic downtown area.
The study concluded in 2007 with a recommendation for a bypass to the west of Richmond, along the route FAP 420 for much of its length.
Purpose of the Improvement
The purpose of this project is improve the operation of north-south traffic along US 12 from the intersection with IL 31, through the town of Richmond, and north to the Wisconsin state line and preserve the small town character of Richmond, including downtown pedestrian accessibility, and supporting the area’s economic development initiatives and land use plans.
The 3.5-mile section of US 12 covered by this study is located in northern McHenry County. The study termini are logical from a roadway network and traffic operations standpoint because the southern terminus is at IL 31, a major at-grade intersection with US 12 that accommodates high turning volumes, and the northern terminus is at the state line, beyond which US 12 is a 4-lane divided highway.
The benefits provided by the proposed action can be achieved without any requirements for additional roadway improvements elsewhere within the study area.
Need for the Improvement
System Linkage and Continuity
US 12 is a vital link in the overall regional transportation system. Richmond is relatively far from the Interstate highway network. McHenry County has only 8.5 miles of interstate highway (I-90) located in the southwestern corner of the county. However, IDOT has designated 9 routes within McHenry County as Strategic Regional Arterials, which serve as the backbone of the county’s roadway system. Therefore, motorists rely heavily on these arterials which include US 12, IL 31, and IL 173 in the vicinity of Richmond.
US 12 is a primary corridor for commercial traffic originating in northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin, and for vacationers from the Chicago area en route to destinations in Wisconsin. US 12 also serves commuter traffic in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
Historically, US 12 served long distance trips between Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin and beyond. These longer-distance trips are now served by the interstate system. The majority of US 12 within in the project area consists of 2 lanes, but widens at intersections to accommodate separate turn lanes.
In Lake County, about 6.5 miles southeast of Richmond, US 12 consists of 4 lanes with more restriction on direct access to the roadway. From this point south though Lake County, US 12 remains 4 lanes or wider. North of the Wisconsin state line, US 12 is a 4-lane divided highway.