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August, 2005

from the News-Sun 31 August 2005
Federal money to eliminate bottleneck
$2 million for long-term bypass project
by Chris Brenner – Staff Writer
MILLBURN – Initial federal funding was announced Tuesday for the Millburn bypass highway project that will eliminate the "Millburn Strangler" intersection of Route 45 and Grass Lake and Millburn roads.
U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Barrington, and other government officials announced that $2.08 million in federal transportation funding has been approved by Congress for the project to bypass the two T-intersections on Route 45, each controlled by a traffic signal, in the Millburn Historic District, which would remain intact.
The funding is part of the $286.5 billion in the recently approved Federal Highway Bill. A total of $25 million of that is for projects in the three-county 8th Congressional District with $12.6 million in Lake County, Bean said. Officials stressed the money is for engineering costs with subsequent funds needed for completion to be appropriated later. Lake County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt of Lake Villa estimated the completed project could take "five, six or seven years. It's a long process. I hope I'm still in office."
She noted that the intersection improvement at Rollins Road and Route 45, which will open next month, took five years to complete.
The total Millburn bypass project costs are estimated at $15 million, said Lake County Division of Transportation Director Marty Buehler. He said it is a state road project. Buehler said the bypass would begin north of the intersections about where the large curve on Route 45 begins. The bypass would be constructed west of the current Route 45 and cross Grass Lake Road west of Route 45. The bypass would continue south past the Millburn Road intersection and return to Route 45.
There would be access form both directions to the Historic Millburn District on what would then be old Route 45, he said.
"We are happy to get the seed money to get the project in the pipeline," Buehler said.
Because of advanced planning by Lindenhurst officials in obtaining rights of way in the nearby Forest Trails and Heritage Trails subdivisions, no houses will need to be razed, said Lindenhurst Mayor Jim Betustak.
Also, he said, historic Millburn, one of the oldest communities in Lake County, will not be affected and the antique shops there will not be affected either. "With this funding we can now say that the Millburn Strangler will no longer be a menace to this community," Bean said.
She said that Lindenhurst, Lake Villa, Antioch and Gurnee are among the fastest-growing towns in Lake County. "that growth is projected to continue and with congestion at this intersection already a problem, building a bypass to improve traffic flow simply could not wait a few more years for federal attention.
"After a long day at work, people want to be home with their families. The last thing they want to do is sit in traffic," Bean said, noting the bypass "will improve the quality of life."
Betustak said the intersections in all four directions are consistently backed up at the traffic signals during morning and evening rush hours. He noted Grass Lake and Millburn roads are major traffic routes for persons living in western Lake County to use to get to and from the Illinois tollway and work places along the Lake Michigan shoreline corridor.
Schmidt said she was pleased "we are getting our foot in the door" for federal funding for the project. "Once you get in and the project gets started, the rest of the project follows," she said.
She said she and Lake County Board Member Judy Martini of Antioch coined the term "Millburn Strangler" in the mid- 1990s when major traffic problems surfaced at the intersections.
Before the intersections were controlled by traffic signals several years ago, the only traffic controls were at first stop signs on Millburn and Grass Lake roads at Route 45 and then four-way stops in both intersections.
"This is a great day for us," Schmidt said in thanking Bean for her work in obtaining funds. "I've bugged her and the whole Illinois delegation" to get funding for the project. Betustak also thanked Bean for her work in obtaining funding. He said village officials have been working for several years preparing for the intersection improvement. "The door is finally open," he said.
He said there has been a recurring debate as to whether the Chicago Cubs would go to the World Series or the Millburn Strangler work would begin first. "We found out the answer today," the mayor said.
Schmidt said the "Millburn Strangler is a huge problem. It deserves a terrible name because it is a terrible problem." Other federally funded Lake County road improvement projects in the 8th Congressional District, Bean said, are:
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