Some say it can’t come soon enough.
Widening the intersection of Walkup Road and Route 176 starts in early March.
The $11 million project — once it’s completed — is intended to ease the flow of traffic through a major bottleneck north of Crystal Lake’s Downtown District
Crews recently had been at work identifying buried utilities such as water mains and power lines near the intersection, said John Ambrose, with the Crystal Lake-based engineering firm Baxter and Woodmen Inc.
“Gosh, it’s needed,” said Diana Kenney, executive director of the nonprofit Downtown Crystal Lake.
“But it’s going to be a painful process,” she added. “I suggest avoiding the intersection during construction. But when it’s done, things will be a lot better.”
Kenney suggested using Route 31, Main Street and Crystal Lake Avenue to get to Crystal Lake's Downtown District and to the commuter train depot there.
The northern leg of the project includes the widening of Walkup from Crystal Springs Road to just short of the Bull Valley Road intersection, according to an MDOT news release.
There will be signal upgrades at the Walkup-Route 176 intersection; new traffic signals at Mason Hill Road and a bike-path connection to Veteran Acres Park.
Some residents that live either at the intersection or nearby have shown concern over the amount of trees being either trimmed or cut down because of the project and the amount of land being used.
"I noticed that there are hundreds of trees X-marked for cutting and the right of ways have been moved, causing the residents around the intersection of Walkup and 176 to lose a great deal of property," Kirk Johnson, a resident that lives near the intersection, wrote to Patch.
"I am sickened by the near-term loss of so many beautiful, very old trees including ones in Veteran Acres," Johnson wrote. "Not to mention the major road hassle coming our way. Those residents must be sick, having their land confiscated by the state and the curb lines moved in to their front stoops."
Ambrose acknowledged that oak trees would have to be taken down. He added that some private property had to be purchased to make room for the widening of the intersection. He said the planning of the project took years and the required public hearings were conducted.
The McHenry County Division of Transportation will update the progress of construction on a Facebook site specifically designated for the project.
People can also stay connected through the website: www.walkuproad.com and follow the project on Twitter, officials said.
Ambrose said the project should be completed in the spring of 2013.
— Michael Bivona contributed to this story