IDOT gives first look at Route 47 widening in southern Kendall
By Steve Lord email@example.com March 14, 2013 6:04PM
Kendall Township Trustee Don Hirsch (left), Road Commissioner Marty Schwartz and Yorkville resident Rod Schobert get some help from IDOT Engineer Steve Andrews during an state meeting regarding the widening of Route 47 between Caton Farm Road and Route 71 at the Hoover Recreation Center Lodge on Thursday, March 14, 2013 in Yorkville. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 16, 2013 3:45PM
YORKVILLE – Several members of a family that farms along Route 47 at Walker Road leaned in to check out the long map that took up several table lengths.
An engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation was using a ruler to measure right-of-way along Route 47, quickly converting inches on a map to feet in real life.
“It looks like 65 feet,” the engineer said.
The farmers nodded to show they understood.
So it was Thursday afternoon at an IDOT public hearing on the proposed widening of Route 47 between Route 71 in Yorkville south to Caton Farm Road. The open-house style hearing was designed to give people who work and live along that section of Route 47 their first glimpse of what IDOT has in mind, when and if funding becomes available for the project some day.
“I just wanted to see how much property it is,” said one of the farmers, who, with several other family members works the land along Walker Road and Route 47.
“I don’t think there’s anything to yell about or anything like that. We just need to be informed,” said the farmer, who declined to give his name.
Which is why IDOT held the hearing, although if there is yelling to be done, the state wants to hear that, too. People attending the hearing were given sheets when they entered to write out comments or questions on the project.
Those comments can be mailed, faxed or e-mailed to IDOT before March 29.
“We want to get input on all these kinds of things,” said Ted Fultz, location and environmental studies engineer for IDOT District 3. “We will take everything people say and reflect it in the project. The next meeting will be a public hearing where we present what we intend to move forward with.”
By the numbers, the widening between Route 71 and Caton Farm road is 4.3 miles, will need 28.6 acres of right-of-way, and will affect 46 land parcels. It will displace two homes, no businesses, take about 15 acres of prime farmland and relocate 36 electric utility poles.
Ultimately, Route 47 will be widened to four lanes between Cross Street in Sugar Grove south to where it meets Interstate 80 in Morris.
For years, the project has been divided into three main sections: from Cross Street to Kennedy Road in Yorkville; from Kennedy Road to Caton Farm Road south of Yorkville; and from Caton Farm Road south to I-80.
The middle section was further divided into three parts, from Cross Street to Kennedy Road, from Kennedy Road to Route 71, and from Route 71 to Caton Farm Road.
An IDOT contractor is set to start work on widening the section between Kennedy Road and Route 71, through downtown Yorkville, this summer. The other sections are in varying levels of readiness.
The next section most ready for construction would be from Caton Farm Road south to I-80, where most of the engineering and land acquisition is done.
But many officials, particularly in Kendall County, consider the section between Sugar Grove and Yorkville to be of higher priority, because traffic counts there are so much higher, in most cases above what IDOT considers safe for two-lane roads.
Recently, officials in the area have been playing a tug-of-war for funding that had been set aside for the Prairie Parkway, but is now available with IDOT basically killing that project.
Most Kendall officials have been pushing to see the about $52 million to go toward the Cross Street to Kennedy Road section.
With no money for land acquisition or construction on the horizon, Fultz pointed out that the section between Caton Farm Road and Route 71 is nowhere to be found on the current 2013-2018 state highway improvement program.
That means the family farmers along Walker Road and Route 47 won’t be worrying about losing their land for a while.
“I guess I’m a little skeptical about the funding,” one of them said.