Now that the election season is (almost) behind us, perhaps we can start thinking about public policy again and not just politics. Below is a study by Steve Willson on the Algonquin Bypass:
Our Outrageous Roads
In September of 2014, the Algonquin bypass opened with much fanfare.
The Governor’s office issued a press release touting his “achievement” and the road’s $88.5 million price tag.
The project was promoted by the McHenry County Division of Transportation which paid Civiltech Engineering millions of dollars for a study justifying the project.
Unfortunately, the cost of the road is outrageous.
Engineers measure road costs by the “lane-mile.”
The Algonquin Bypass is a four lane, 1.25 mile road. With the ramps, the whole project is about six lane-miles.
This road cost the taxpayers $14.75 million per lane mile.
According to a study entitled Highway Construction Costs/How Does Illinois Compare?” published by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute in May, 2014, the average cost per lane-mile to construct a new divided four lane interstate in Illinois is $1.9 million for urban areas.
In other words, this road cost almost eight times the average to construct.
But beyond the construction cost, the value of a road lies in how much it is used.
In 2015, the average daily traffic on the Algonquin Bypass was 12,650 vehicles.
That’s 4.7 million [6.5 million before correction] vehicles per year.
If you amortize the construction cost, $88.5 million, over twenty years, the annual cost is about $14.5 million.
Divide the annual cost by the number of vehicles, and the cost per vehicle is $1.41.
The cost per mile is $1.13.
The Illinois Tollway charges an average of six cents per mile.
In other words, this project costs us, the taxpayers, almost 20 times what it should have for the number of vehicles that use it.
All of these facts were known when the McHenry County Division of Transportation spent millions of our dollars to justify this project to the State.
Sadly, this is not an isolated example.
It is the norm for road building in McHenry County.
Let’s hope that, with the results of the March 15 election, there will be significant changes in how the County Board considers road projects such as the Algonquin/Randall interchange and the proposed Randall Road expansion.