Multimillion-Dollar Stearns Road Bridge and Corridor to Open Dec. 16
Officials say the corridor will provide a major east-west thoroughfare in the Fox Valley region.
Nearly 20 years in the making, the highly-anticipated Stearns Road Bridge over the Fox River, costing an estimated $165 million, will finally be open to traffic next week, providing a major east-to-west corridor for the Fox River Valley.
"It provides a new crossing over the Fox River," explained Manny Gomez, of the Kane County Division of Transportation, "It is going to provide relief for other regional crossings in the area."
Although construction on the actual Stearns Road Corridor Improvement Project did not begin until June 2009, it has been in existence since 1990 when then Congressman Dennis Hastert formed the Fox River Bridge Committee to select an area to build a major regional corridor for the growing area.
By the mid-1990s, Stearns Road was selected out of 20 other possible locations in McHenry and Kane counties.
Preliminary engineering and design began in 2002, and final engineering began in 2006.
An opening date near Thanksgiving was originally set for the project, but it was delayed. Now, with the project roughly 97 percent complete and set to open to traffic on Dec. 16, buzz is starting to build about what the new corridor will mean for the surrounding area.
"Really, I think everyone will be pleased with the way this project turned out," said Kevin Ahern, of Chicago-based Alfred Benesch and Company, the project manager for the entire corridor construction.
"We've been working with the county and engineering teams to tie all of the projects together," he added.
To most who have not been involved in the project, the Stearns Road Corridor was more than just the construction of the Stearns Road Bridge. A closer look shows that the project adds much to the area's transportation and aesthetics.
The new corridor includes 16 acres of open space, 4.6 miles of new roadway, seven new highway bridges, and seven miles of bike trails.
The corridor, which begins at Randall Road and the current McDonald Road, travels east through South Elgin, toward the Fox River and up to the Stearns Road Bridge.
McDonald on the east side of Randall Road will be renamed Stearns Road on Dec. 14, pending approval by the Kane County Board.
Once across the bridge, Stearns Road will connect with Route 25 and curve around across Dunham Road, where Route 25 will continue northward and Stearns Road will continue east toward the end of the corridor in DuPage County.
"Overall, it's going to be a benefit to the residents of Kane County and DuPage County," said Gomez, who added that a new regional bridge across the Fox River will likely alleviate some traffic on existing regional bridges, such as Route 64 in St. Charles and Route 38 in Geneva.
"We all see the congestion on the existing bridges," he said.
McLean Boulevard, Dunham Road and part of Route 25 also have been reconstructed, as has the Canadian National railroad bridge across McLean.
In addition, a bike crossing has been included on the Stearns Road Bridge connecting to the Fox River Trail.
Although the Stearns Road Corridor is set to open on Dec. 16, the celebration for its opening is scheduled for the morning of Dec. 15, where a vehicle procession consisting of the South Elgin Fire Department, 50 local businesses, cyclists who will benefit from the corridor's new bike trails, and the various contractors who have worked on the project, will travel from the east to west ends of the corridor.
A ribbon cutting and speeches from those who played roles in its development and completion are also planned.
According to Ahern, some work remains on the project after the Stearns Road Corridor opens. This will consist of some final landscaping on the medians and along the side of the roads in the spring.
"It's really a scenic drive," he said. "This will be a pretty area in the spring and fall."
For information on the Stearns Road Corridor, visit www.stearnsroad.com.