Will the new crossing of the railroad tracks be a grade separation (overpass or underpass)?

The type of roadway crossing of the Milwaukee District North Line (MD-N) will remain an at-grade crossing.  This means no overpass or underpass.  The existing at-grade crossing will be relocated approximately 650 feet to the west.

The project team evaluated a grade separation early in the study process.  Based upon the grading necessary for an overpass or underpass, with or without retaining walls, the grade separation was found to be incompatible with the Village’s adjacent land use plans for expanding the existing downtown.  Furthermore, the MD-N only has intermittent freight traffic which does not warrant the implementation of a grade separation.  If significant freight traffic is implemented in the future, the entire rail corridor would need to be reevaluated and a grade separation could be considered at that time.

Road capacity will be improved with the relocated at-grade crossing and additional thru lanes on Cedar Lake Road, and a traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of IL Route 134.  The project improves operations by reducing the number of conflict points between trains, vehicles and pedestrians from 24 to 7, a 70% reduction.  There will no longer be a station platform crossing Cedar Lake Road at the station.  In addition, there will be no longer be entrances to Cedar Lake Road adjacent to the railroad tracks.  Safety will be improved by adding a traffic pre-signal for southbound traffic before the railroad crossing, as well as adding exclusive pedestrian gates to paths and sidewalks at the relocated crossing.

Can you keep the existing railroad crossing and build a new one?

Decisions of at-grade crossings for the Milwaukee District North Line (MD-N) are made by Metra and the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC).  Metra, like most railroads, does not allow new at-grade crossings, for safety reasons.  For the purposes of this project, the at-grade crossing is considered as a relocation and will be located approximately 650 west of the current location.

Will this improvement bring more people through the area?

One goal of the project is to accommodate expected future traffic growth through the Village of Round Lake downtown area.  Based upon the traffic projections provided by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), traffic is expected to grow 15% by 2050 within the project study limits.  The proposed improvement is being designed to accommodate the expected traffic growth, as well as provide additional pedestrian connections and enhance public transportation (Metra and Pace) in the area.    

Will this plan just move the traffic congestion instead of fixing it?

The existing Cedar Lake Road corridor as 2-lanes (one lane in each direction) would fail (level of service F) in 2050 if no improvements are made.  The realigned corridor can be constructed with 4-lanes (two lanes in each direction), including turn lanes at intersections, with less impacts than widening the existing corridor.  Even with 15% more traffic, the proposed improvement can sufficiently accommodate the volume of traffic projected.  As part of the study, a benefit-cost analysis was performed that identified nearly $263 million in net benefits as a part of this project, with a nearly 10 to 1 benefit to cost ratio.  These benefits included reduction in traffic congestion, improved air quality, reduced crashes, better bicycle and pedestrian connectivity and accessibility, and improved economic productivity of the downtown. 

Besides the new roadway, what else will be built as part of the project?

The project is a multi-modal improvement that will include many other significant transportation features including new sidewalks, new shared use paths, downtown streetscape features, modernized bus stops, and a reimagined Metra station including two new warming shelters.

  • The project will include approximately 1.8 miles of new sidewalk and 1.3 miles of new shared use path, with access to downtown businesses, parks, schools and the Nippersink Forest Preserve.  The new path will be part of the Lake County Forest Preserve’s Millenium Trail, which is a planned 41-mile trail designed to connect central, western and northern Lake County.  Today, 33 miles of the Millenium Trail is complete.   
  • The Metra station will be reconfigured to improve commuter access from parking to the platform, while also improving safety.  The new layout will improve the utilization of some of the existing Metra parking while also incorporating new kiss-n-rides on both sides of the railroad tracks.  The existing dated, station building will be removed and replaced with two modern warming shelters, which will provide for more decentralized refuge across a relocated platform.  Bicycle parking will also be updated and expanded.
  • Relocated bus stops and new shelters will provide modern accommodations for Pace Riders adjacent to the Metra station.
  • The Village is currently developing a new, downtown streetscape plan based upon the new roadways.  The Village is considering implementing some of the plan recommendations into the County’s roadway construction project.  More details will be provided in the future.
Can you just add a traffic signal at the existing Cedar Lake Road at IL Route 134 (Railroad Ave) intersection, and not build a realigned roadway?

Adding a traffic signal at the existing intersection would not accommodate the amount of traffic projected in 2050.  Also, just adding a traffic signal would not address the operational issues at the existing Cedar Lake Road rail crossing, including:

  • The station platform proximity to the road.
  • The Metra parking on both sides of Cedar Lake Road causing uncontrolled pedestrian crossings of the road.
  • Entrances to the road adjacent to the railroad crossing.
  • A high number of conflict points at the railroad crossing between vehicles, pedestrians, and trains. The proposed realignment improvement will reduce these conflict points by 70%.  
Can you add a traffic signal at other intersections like the intersection of Nippersink Road at IL Route 134 (Railroad Ave)?

Traffic signal implementation in Illinois is governed by adoption of the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD).  The MUTCD ensures uniformity of traffic control devices across the nation by setting minimum standards and providing guidance.  For signals to be implemented an engineering study of traffic conditions, pedestrian characteristics, and physical characteristics is performed.  Factors considered include: vehicular and pedestrian volumes, school crossings, coordinated traffic signal systems, crash experience, roadway network, and the intersection proximity to a railroad crossing.

A traffic signal warrant analysis was performed at the intersection of Nippersink Road at IL Route 134 and it did not meet the warrants to allow a signal to be installed.  However, there will be other improvements at the intersection to improve capacity and safety, including a new westbound left-turn lane on IL Route 134 to Nippersink Road and a new eastbound left-turn lane on IL Route 134 to a new Metra entrance.

Will this project make it more difficult for the fire department to get to the other side of the railroad tracks?

One priority for this project is to improve conditions for emergency vehicles driving through the area.  The existing configuration is undesirable for the Fire Protection District because the all-way stop controlled intersection at Cedar Lake Road and IL Route 134 has no way to clear vehicular queues for the emergency vehicles.  Maneuvering fire trucks through the downtown area with on-street parking is challenging. 

While the proposed condition moves the roadway crossing of the Metra Milwaukee District North Line (MD-N) approximately 650 feet to the west, it does provide a path for emergency vehicles to use emergency vehicle preemption equipment at all the major signalized intersections and not contend with on-street parking.

Are you going to fix the roadway flooding issues?

The project team has studied the drainage system for the entire project limits and developed a detailed hydraulic model to review the existing and proposed drainage conditions.  The proposed drainage improvements have been designed to comply with local and state regulations. The project team has collaboratively worked with the Village of Round Lake, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (LCSMC), and Illinois Department of Transportation’s Drainage Team, to develop the drainage improvements that address regulatory requirements and the recently adopted higher rainfall data.  The drainage improvements will improve localized flooding issues by improving the storm sewer system and providing additional stormwater detention ponds.  Drainage improvements include approximately 3.3 miles of new storm sewer, 2 new detention basins, 2 new infiltration basins, and 2 new storm sewer connections underneath the railroad.

What are you doing to mitigate the traffic noise?

A traffic noise assessment was required to comply with State and Federal regulations because federal funds are being used for this project and due to the project scope.  A noise analysis was performed for the entire project area and identified traffic noise impacts to three residences on Cedar Lake Road south of Nippersink Road.  Noise walls were not deemed feasible due to driveway locations along the road that would interrupt a noise wall placed between the residences and the roadway, which would make the walls ineffective at reducing noise.  For that reason, the criteria for a noise wall was not met and there are no noise walls planned as part of this project.