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More La Grange Road construction is on horizon

As the winter weather thaws, construction is set to speed up on the more than $100 million La Grange Road widening project, Illinois Department of Transportation officials said Tuesday.

"Like everybody else, we're hoping this is it and we can really get to work," IDOT engineer Michael Wiater said. "You'll start to see the amount of work really increasing in the next two to three weeks."

Daily lane closures for construction between the Metra Bridge and 135th Street in Orland Park from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. began Tuesday. Wiater said those temporary closures would likely continue through mid-summer, when IDOT expects to have all traffic moved to one side of the road.

Construction crews are working on building retaining walls, installing temporary traffic signals and lighting and relocating utilities, including a gas main, Wiater said. Soon, they'll begin constructing temporary pavement to help maintain open lanes, IDOT spokeswoman Paris Ervin said.

Progress was delayed when it took longer than expected for utility companies to move buried lines farther than the street, an IDOT spokeswoman told the Tribune in September, shortly after widening work was scheduled to start.

The utility relocation and winter weather that "took a toll on everybody" slowed progress, said Kurt Corrigan, transportation and engineering manager for Orland Park and the village's liaison with IDOT. "But it's hard to put a number of days on it," he said.

IDOT is still working toward the expected July 2015 completion date, and none of the contractors has requested extensions, Ervin said.

When construction ends, the six-mile stretch of La Grange Road between 131st and 179th streets will have grown from four lanes to six, with a barrier median and double left-turn lanes at some intersections. The improvements are designed to reduce traffic and accidents, according to IDOT documents.

More construction could mean more traffic and bad news for business, said Linda Oetjen, general manager of Orland Park Crossing.

"You're always concerned about it. There's going to be an impact from a big project, but it is what it is," she said. "I haven't yet heard people saying they're not going to be out on La Grange Road, and you do sometimes hear that."

To reduce the impact, Ervin said IDOT would leave one lane of traffic open in each direction at all times and would not allow temporary lane closures between 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Village Manager Paul Grimes said the village worked out a good system for managing traffic and helping Orland Park's businesses prepare during previous roadway construction projects.

"IDOT has been good about working with the village, and every time we get a message, we share that because we know it helps the business community to have advance warning," Grimes said.

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