WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board gave the official go-ahead to replace the two-way stop at Charles and Raffel roads with a roundabout, starting a project that spent a year in legislative limbo.
Board members voted, 20-4, to accept the $2.18 million bid from Landmark Contractors Inc., of Huntley, to replace the two-way stop just north of Woodstock. Construction is expected to start soon and wrap up later this year.
Improving the intersection has been on the county’s five-year highway improvement plan since 2009. It is in the top 5 percent of all county intersections under local control when it comes to the severity of accidents, according to county records. More than 60 percent of the accidents at the intersection just north of Woodstock North High School result in injuries, three-fourths of them requiring trips to the hospital.
The intersection gets about 16,000 vehicles a day, according to traffic counts made in 2012, when the project started being prioritized.
McHenry County Division of Transportation Director Joe Korpalski said that drivers who take either road know that the intersection needs to be improved. Both Greenwood Township and the City of Woodstock have spoken in favor of the project.
“The high speed at which cars approach, coupled with the amount of turning vehicles, makes this an ideal spot for a roundabout, which have been shown repeatedly to be safer than traditional four-way intersections and significantly less costly to maintain than those with traffic signals,” Korpalski said in a statement.
A roundabout, a common sight on roads in Europe, is a circular intersection that supporters say is a safer alternative to intersections. Because there is only one-way movement throughout the roundabout – cars travel counterclockwise until they find their turn – they all but eliminate the possibility of head-on and right-angle collisions.
The County Board in April 2016 was poised to approve a $2.6 million bid for a roundabout, but at the last minute sent it back to the Transportation Committee, which had struggled with whether to build a roundabout or stick with a traditional, but more expensive, signal intersection.
County Board Chairman Jack Franks, D-Marengo, called the vote a "two-fold win" in that a dangerous intersection will be made safer at a cost about $50,000 less than last year's bid.
The only opposing board member who spoke prior to Tuesday's vote was Craig Wilcox, R-McHenry, who said that he would like in future debates over construction projects to have more of a discussion when multiple design options are in play.
How they voted:
The McHenry County Board voted Tuesday, 20-4, to approve a bid to build a roundabout at the intersection of Charles and Raffel roads north of Woodstock. Board members John Hammerand, R-Wonder Lake, Tom Wilbeck, R-Barrington Hills, Craig Wilcox, R-McHenry, and Andrew Gasser, R-Fox River Grove, voted no.