Donna Kurtz Explains County Board Approval of Randall-Algonquin Road Improvement

The following was written by McHenry County Board member Donna Kurtz:

WHY FIXING RANDALL ROAD / ALGONQUIN ROAD INTERSECTION AREA MATTERS

Most will agree that the Randall and Algonquin Roads intersection and surrounding area is a significant
congestion problem for McHenry County.

Traffic backups are common, and many complain about traffic safety concerns. In fact, in 2010 this intersection gained the dubious distinction from the Sun Times as one of “Chicagoland’s 20 Most Dangerous Intersections”, and in 2015 this intersection area was the site of 286 accidents.

However, many elected officials, such as myself, as well as members of the public were reluctant to support the initial proposals to “fix Randall Road” because designs such as a continuous flow interchange (CFI), and the miles of Randall Road widening seemed to be overkill, and far more expensive (upwards of $120 Million) than what was needed to fix this problematic situation.

However, the McHenry County Division of Transportation (MCDOT) has addressed these concerns and as a result, these initial expansive plans have been vastly scaled back.
KurtZ Randall 3
BACKGROUND

At the July 5th, 2016 board meeting the County Board secured a majority vote to address the Randall Road/Algonquin Road intersection area problems.

The new plan, supported by a majority of County Board Members, is substantially scaled down in terms of both scope and price tag from the initial proposal.

Rather than take on the enormous expense of expanding and widening all of Randall Road, as well as introducing expensive infrastructure such as a CFI, this project is roughly half the cost and will only focus on addressing the Randall Road and Algonquin Road intersection area that extends to Harnish Drive to the south [in Algonquin], and Acorn Lane/Polaris Drive [in Lake in the Hills] to the north (see the photo below highlighting road coverage).

Kurtz Randall 4
The substantial reduction in cost and construction time were key reasons for my support of this project, as opposed to the initial project which was arguably over engineered and extremely costly relative to the problems that needed to be fixed.

TRAFFIC BOTTLENECK METRICS

The Randall and Algonquin Road intersection area has become a central crossroad for regional traffic.

Therefore, it is not surprising that three different traffic volume counts provided by IDOT and MCDOT between 2013 through 2016 show average traffic volumes of between 68,000 – 85,000 vehicles travelling through this intersection daily.

In addition, all of these studies show a trend increase in the traffic volume since 2009.

These traffic numbers also indicate that this intersection not only has the highest traffic in McHenry County, but also has one of the highest traffic levels in the region.

Specifically, IDOT traffic studies for the Barrington Road / Higgins intersection show average daily traffic (ADT) of 62,200, Roselle / Golf intersection with an ADT of 71,000, and Roselle / Higgins intersection with an ADT of just under 63,000 (see chart and corresponding map below).

Kurtz Randall 5
of the sizeable traffic pouring through the Randall Road and Algonquin Road intersection area on a daily basis, basic operational functions such as a sufficient number of thru lanes, left-turn lanes, and right-turn lanes are lacking, while the other intersections just mentioned do have this level of operational functionality.

PROJECT COST & FUNDING

 

MCDOT has established the total costs for making necessary operational improvements at $65.7 million, which according to MCDOT is in line with industry standards for this type of project.

Specifically, the total number of miles involved are 1.5 miles on Randall Road, and .7 miles on Algonquin Road. Total number of lane miles to be constructed is 20.9 miles.

Given lane mile construction cost can vary from $2 Million to $6 Million, according to the Federal Highway Administration, the construction costs per lane mile for this project is attractively priced at $1.8 Million per lane mile.

Remaining costs for the project are allocated to right-of-way land acquisition and engineering.

Because the project design incorporates triple left-turn lanes from Algonquin Road onto Randall Road for future capacity, a considerable Federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant has been awarded.

The CMAQ grant provides $10.6 million in Federal funds that reduces the total project cost for McHenry County taxpayers to $55.1 Million (as shown in the table below under ‘Proposed Design’).

Kurtz Randall cost comparisonsGiven the approximately $9 Million spent to date—after subtracting this remaining $9 Million—the remaining cost for project completion (for the ‘Proposed Design’) stands at about $45 Million.

Going forward, these remaining costs will be funded through motor fuel taxes and other transportation-based taxes. [See note below on RTA Sales Tax.]

Therefore, no increases in property taxes will occur to fund this construction.

On the other hand, if we do nothing to fix this intersection area the County will lose almost $20 million dollars in the form of federal funding, as well as money spent to date.

VALUE PROVIDED THROUGH EFFECTIVE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION

Because traffic does not effectively move through this intersection area today, travelers experience extended travel time delays that cause frustration, unnecessary pollution, and safety issues.

These elements create an undesirable quality of life impacting the attractiveness and property values of our surrounding neighborhoods and towns.

However, as we progress to the future, providing more effective traffic handling and throughput allows the County to better manage its overall transportation network.

This will result in fewer accidents, reduced travel time, and less fuel consumption and pollution—thus, providing $3.5 dollars of value for every 1 dollar invested in this project.

The table below reflects the analysis and cost benefits for this Return on Investment.

Given the approximately $9 Million spent to date—after subtracting this remaining $9 Million—the remaining cost for project completion (for the ‘Proposed Design’) stands at about $45 Million.

Going forward, these remaining costs will be funded through motor fuel taxes and other transportation-based taxes.

Therefore, no increases in property taxes will occur to fund this construction. On the other hand, if we do nothing to fix this intersection area the County will lose almost $20 million dollars in the form of federal funding, as well as money spent to date.

VALUE PROVIDED THROUGH EFFECTIVE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION

Because traffic does not effectively move through this intersection area today, travelers experience extended travel time delays that cause frustration, unnecessary pollution, and safety issues.

These elements create an undesirable quality of life impacting the attractiveness and property values of our surrounding neighborhoods and towns.

However, as we progress to the future, providing more effective traffic handling and throughput allows the County to better manage its overall transportation network.

This will result in fewer accidents, reduced travel time, and less fuel consumption and pollution—thus, providing $3.5 dollars of value for every 1 dollar invested in this project.

The table below reflects the analysis and cost benefits for this Return on Investment.
Kurtz Randall 2

Investing in transportation infrastructure at the crossroads of Lake in the Hills / Algonquin, and with Huntley and Crystal Lake right down the road, we are taking the steps necessary to further strengthen the business areas surrounding Randall Road as economic engines for McHenry County.

By reducing travel times, studies indicate that retail market reach and consumer spending potential will also increase.

By increasing traffic capacity, we increase the desirability for businesses to relocate here because of the improved access for employees to travel to work.

Map 1, below reflects the additional retail reach and spending that may occur by improving the Randall Road intersection.

Kurtz Randall Retail

Map 2, below, projects the impact of improved transportation and how this will improve access for labor & business.

Kurtz Randall 1

Ultimately, strengthening our tax base by providing a safe effective transportation infrastructure that our residents expect; businesses require; and employers and commuters demand positions McHenry County to strengthen its economic base. In turn. this is critical to revitalize taxpayer relief for McHenry County.

SUMMARY

The County’s intent in addressing the operational deficiencies at the Randall Road / Algonquin Road intersection area is to ensure we have the throughput to handle traffic over the next 30 years.

But make no mistake about it—the traffic levels at this intersection relative to comparable intersections indicate a serious bottleneck that must be addressed now.

As a County we must recognize that this is no longer just a busy area with highly travelled intersections—rather, these sections of roads have become a critical foundation to support our regional transportation needs.

Additionally, the impact of these improvements are anticipated to generate substantial added business and economic value to McHenry County.

In conclusion, addressing the challenges of the current Randall & Algonquin Roads intersection area will position both businesses and residents alike so we can all benefit from greater transportation capacity that will create additional financial and quality of life benefits for McHenry County residents in the years ahead.

= = = = =
Donna Kurtz is a 3-term McHenry County Board Member for District 2 for representing Crystal Lake, LITH, Cary, and Lakewood. If you have additional questions concerning this article, or this project please send Donna your question or concern at [email protected] Please include your name, phone/cell number, and whether you would like Donna to call or email you.

= = = = =
I would further explain one source of funding being used. It is the RTA Sales Tax. While it is could be called a transportation tax because it can be used for transportation purposes, its collection of approximately $10 million a year can also be used to replace property taxes used for law enforcement purposes. See “RTA Sales Tax Could Displace Property Taxes Financing Sheriff’s Department.”


Comments

Donna Kurtz Explains County Board Approval of Randall-Algonquin Road Improvement — 23 Comments

  1. Under Project Costs and Funding

    She states:

    1.5 miles on Randall and .7 miles on Algonquin roads add up to 20.9 lane miles.

    And cost is justified on the basis of 20.9 lane miles.

    I don’t understand how 1.5 plus .7 road miles add up to 20.9 lane miles.

  2. Under Traffic Bottleneck Metrics
    She states
    Studies show a trend increase in traffic volume since 2009.

    This assertion is in contradiction of data presented on IDOT report printed on prior post and available online.

    Will Ms. Kurtz publish her sourxe citations for public scrutiny?

  3. Ok, three terms on the board,
    Kurtz was already on my BIG
    SPENDER LIST, now she is on
    The TERM LIMIT LIST !

    Ms Kurtz keeps FORGETTING
    Mchenry County has the 29th
    HIGHEST property taxes in th e US.

    Voting for this, along with declining
    Property values shows us that she
    JUST DOESN’T CARE !

  4. McHenry County might have the worst roads in the nation!

    Takes 3 years to do an intersection, i.e., 176 & 31…..176 & 14, 120 & 31 and on and on….complete the 53 extension to 120, then you will be doing something.
    Route 31 is still 2 lanes between McHenry and CL.

    If you want to see good roads, go to any neighboring State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, in Illinois there is corruption at every level.

  5. Would it be cheaper to build a bridge of gold bricks for this intersection?

    More lanes will not bring in more revenue.

    Way does Randall Road need to be wider that I 90?

    Time to invest in other roads now, 47 Huntley to Woodstock, 31 Mchenry to Crystal Lake, 120 McHenry to Woodstock, 14 Woodstock to Harvard, the 53 extension, the route 12 bypass around Richmond…

  6. Deport illegal aliens and you’ll realize an approx. 24% reduction in traffic …. not even considering the relatively junkier autos and slightly higher accident rates attributable to them.

  7. Well said Mark S.

    In theory two or more of the project
    Areas you mentioned could be fixed
    For what Randall Road will cost .

    Just doing the construction is going
    To create a traffic nightmare (for months
    Or longer, like the Kennedy) that the
    BIG SPENDERS OBVIOUSLY haven’t thought about.

  8. All of the other road projects you mentioned are state roads.

    Most have been in Jack Franks district at one time or another.

  9. Three lanes coming in to the intersection from each direction, I guess.

  10. OK, now I understand the lane mile calculation.

    But I don’t think the standard cost is $2-$3 million per lane mile.

    See below from FAQ on itrb.org

    How Much Does It Cost to Build a Mile of Road?

    There is no single answer to this question.

    Construction costs per mile of road depend on location, terrain, type of construction, number of lanes, lane width, durability, number of bridges, etc.

    It costs more to build a new road than to rehabilitate a road or add lanes.

    Roads cost more to build in urban areas than in rural areas.

    Roads in mountainous terrain are more expensive to build than roads on flat land.

    Nonetheless, some states have developed cost models to guide planning for their highway construction programs.

    These models give a ballpark figure for various kinds of highway improvements.

    The following are some examples:

    Construct a new 2-lane undivided road – about $2 million to $3 million per mile in rural areas, about $3 million to $5 million in urban areas.

    Construct a new 4-lane highway — $4 million to $6 million per mile in rural and suburban areas, $8 million to $10 million per mile in urban areas.

    Construct a new 6-lane Interstate highway – about $7 million per mile in rural areas, $11 million or more per mile in urban areas.

    Mill and resurface a 4-lane road – about $1.25 million per mile.

    Expand an Interstate Highway from four lanes to six lanes – about $4 million per mile.

    The Florida Department of Transportation has published its generic cost per mile information for 2013 online.

    The Arkansas Highway Department’s estimated cost per mile for 2013 is available online.

  11. The cost benefit analysis displayed by Kurtz reminds me of her support of Township Consolidation.

    Don’t you really like how these fools (my opinion) love to pull numbers out of that same dark place where they keep their heads?

    The Township consolidation folks did it (as proven) and now Kurtz (or whomever put the post together) is doing the same thing.

    “Value of reduced CO2”?

    Give me a break!

  12. “In fact, in 2010 this intersection gained the dubious distinction from the Sun Times as one of “Chicagoland’s 20 Most Dangerous Intersections”, and in 2015 this intersection area was the site of 286 accidents.”

    I wonder if she has a citation for that claim, or if she’s just playing the safety card to justify a pet project.

    Also, I wonder what the impact the red light camera at this intersection has on the accident rate.

    I’d bet it’s somewhere between “a lot” and “the cause of nearly every accident there.”

    How about we just get rid of the red light camera and see what impact it has on the accidents?

  13. Rawdogger: It took some digging because the Sun-Times has taken down their index for any story older than 2015.

    The Randall/Algonquin intersection is listed as #18 with 42 accidents in 2010, so less than one per week and no fatalities.

  14. This will raise taxes on people who can’t / don’t even own a home!

    Higher Gas Taxes and highter Public Transportation Taxes.

    WE DON’T NEED MORE TAXES!!!!

    STOP SPENDING!!!!

  15. Hey Mark & Steve W,

    Keep the fact checking up,
    There is some definate fishy
    Smell wafting from this project.

  16. Susan, wages in Florida for construction are far below Illinois’ wages.

    A flagger makes $40.20 and another $26 in benefits per hour here in IL .

    Florida has no prevailing wage law unless the project is federally funded when Davis-Bacon Act would set the wage rate.

    Illinois has one of the highest prevailing wage rates in the country and that’s why road building costs so much more here.

  17. Ms. Kurtz’s arguments seem to center upon the intersection of Randall and Algonquin Roads.

    Her cited reference for appropriate costs:
    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/hersst/pubs/tech/tech06.cfm

    The North/South Randall Road area in question seems to be less than 1.5 Total road miles.(X2)

    The Algonquin Road East/West affected area seems to be less than 1/2 mile. (X2)

    The cited governmental reference of cost-per-lane-mile is in 2002 dollars.

    Two conversion factor websites using national inflation figures assert the dollar value today of 2002 dollars is $1.34

    The intersection does not involve new road building, nor tearing up existing road, it implies adding a lane in north and south direction, as well as ‘alignment’ of new roadway.

    Please see cited website for implied costs, which are startlingly lower than the $100 million total indicated cost in Ms. Kurtz article by omission and inclusion.

  18. Ah, the prevailing wage law, along
    With the pension debt is yet another
    Reason to flee Illinois.

    Illinois could find the residents left
    Might be union workers, teachers ,
    Politicians, & state, township & county
    Employees.

    Throw a few attorneys in there too.

    Love the (fantasy) scenario of all those groups figuring out how to tax each other.

  19. There is an excellent study of the cost of building highways in Illinois, published in 2014 by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. It’s entitled

    “Highway Construction Costs, How Does Illinois Compare?”

    Here is what I think is the most relevant quote:

    “2011 estimates of the generic cost per lane-mile to construct a new divided four lane interstate, for example, were $0.92 million for rural Illinois and $1.88 million for urban areas.”

  20. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/hersst/pubs/tech/tech06.cfm

    Table 6-1. Elemental Capital Improvement Costs (Thousands of 2002 Dollars per Lane-Mile) A B C D E F G H I
    Reconstruct and Widen Lanes Reconstruct Pavement Resurface and Widen Lanes Resurface Pavement Improve Shoulders Add Lane at Normal Cost Add Lane at High Cost Re-Align Pavement at Normal Cost Re-Align Pavement at High Cost
    Rural Interstate
    Flat terrain 1182 772 669 274 51 1899 2633 2106 10948
    Rolling terrain 1325 792 770 292 84 2059 3331 2665 11444
    Mountainous terrain 1564 916 927 322 129 2638 8315 3120 12458
    Rural Other Principal Arterials
    Flat terrain 923 618 558 220 34 1521 2178 1742 8882
    Rolling terrain 1042 635 634 245 57 1629 2629 2103 9396
    Mountainous terrain 1197 720 739 267 89 1981 7368 12000 12000
    Rural Minor Arterials
    Flat terrain 844 543 520 195 32 1383 1941 1553 1553
    Rolling terrain 1019 601 647 210 59 1585 2500 2000 2000
    Mountainous terrain 1182 687 761 232 90 1951 7368 11500 11500
    Rural Major Collectors
    Flat terrain 889 575 537 199 41 1436 1436 1553 8838
    Rolling terrain 973 584 604 211 55 1468 1468 1910 10054
    Mountainous terrain 1111 662 699 231 87 1730 6911 11000 11000
    Urban Interstate, Other Freeways and Expressways
    Small Urban 1987 1376 1566 334 61 3116 11094 5235 13290
    Small Urbanized 2136 1388 1620 395 81 3405 12121 5720 14939
    Large Urbanized 3407 2272 2509 530 306 5699 60000 9574 60000
    Urban Other Principal Arterials
    Small Urban 1732 1169 1433 280 62 2649 9430 4450 11131
    Small Urbanized 1853 1183 1498 331 83 2870 10218 4822 12401
    Large Urbanized 2647 1734 2192 416 267 4200 14953 6216 14288
    Urban Minor Arterials and Collectors
    Small Urban 1276 883 1084 205 45 1956 6964 3287 8929
    Small Urbanized 1337 893 1094 233 55 2061 7338 3463 10003
    Large Urbanized 1800 1194 1496 286 150 2858 10173 4801 11179

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *