In late February, the Village of Barrington Board of Trustees approved and presented an intergovernmental agreement to the Barrington Area Library regarding a project to re-route Lake Zurich Road to intersect U.S. Route 14 (Northwest Highway) at the existing traffic signal at Berry Road in order to alleviate an extremely unsafe intersection from the community.
The agreement provides that the Village will purchase 2.53 acres of land from the Barrington Area Library at the library’s appraised price, subject to IDOT concurrence (federal and state funds will cover 75% of this cost).
The Library Board is currently considering the proposal and has stated that it will vote on the proposal at its board meeting in April (the meeting is Monday, April 9). In materials to its constituents, the Library has expressed concern over certain aspects of the proposal, including safety and traffic issues relative to the new Lake Zurich Road route as well as their ability to expand in the future.
Below are important points to consider regarding the proposal:
How unsafe is the current intersection?
The current Lake Zurich Road/Route 14 intersection sits on a curve of Route 14 with no traffic signal; its history includes 14 accidents in a recent 18-month period and has been the site of fatalities as well.
How much Library land is being purchased for the relocation?
The Village is proposing to purchase 2.53 acres of the Library’s land to create a re-routed Lake Zurich Road for the benefit of the greater community, as well as a stormwater detention pond that benefits both the Library and the surrounding area.
Will the project give the Library the ability to expand in the future?
Yes. In fact, the Village estimates that sufficient land would remain to the east and north to allow a doubling of the Library building as well as a corresponding doubling of the parking lot in the future.
In addition, per the proposed agreement, the Village would give “credit” to the Library for lot acreage on the purchased parcel of land for any future expansion (as if the Library still owned it) and would grant necessary variations, enabling the Library to expand as it wishes in the future.
Does the broader Barrington community support the project?
As the Library has stated, the Library serves 14 communities over a 72-square-mile area, and it must meet the needs of all its constituents. However, high numbers of these constituents use Route 14 and Lake Zurich Road in the Village of Barrington to access the Library, especially those coming from the north.
At a public hearing in 2012, more than 500 community members responded regarding the project, with 88% expressing their support for the relocation of Lake Zurich Road. Homeowners associations and individuals in the nearby area have also expressed their support.
In addition, 13 additional governmental bodies with Library constituents have weighed in to support the Intergovernmental Agreement through resolution and letters: Barrington Hills, Barrington Township, Cuba Township, Deer Park, Ela Township, Fox River Grove, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Lake Barrington, Lake Zurich, North Barrington, South Barrington, and Tower Lakes.
Would the proposed relocation create unsafe traffic conditions at the Library?
No. The Village has proposed a comprehensive plan (see rendering above) that in fact makes the Library’s entry and exit routes as safe or more safe than the current configuration. The Library’s new entrance would occur via a small roundabout off of the much-less-traveled Lake Zurich Road, as opposed to directly from the highly trafficked Route 14.
The traffic pattern would relocate the current main traffic aisle away from the Library, eliminating the need for patrons to cross heavy traffic to reach the door from the parking lot. Instead, drivers would enter the library lot from the back, not the front. In addition, the proposal would create a safer Library walkway along Route 14. Currently, the library path along Route 14 is as little as 3 feet from the curb of Northwest Highway and only 5 feet in width – this project would move it 10 feet away and widen that path to 10 feet, making it safer for pedestrians.
Would the project include full rebuilding, re-paving, and expansion of the Library’s current parking lot at no cost to the Library?
Yes. Currently, the Library is considering an $882,000 re-paving project for its parking lot. The Lake Zurich Relocation project provides for the Library to have its parking lot completely replaced through this effort at no cost to them – saving taxpayers $882,000. In addition, this reconstruction would completely eliminate the rainwater pooling on the current lot, making it safer for patrons.
Would the proposed relocation bring the Library building closer to Route 14?
The new intersection at Lake Zurich/Berry Road and Route 14 (see rendering) would create a right-hand turn lane on northwest-bound Route 14, which would be just 10 feet closer to the library than the current lane but will actually provide added safety for those turning right onto the new Lake Zurich Road and then into the Library at the roundabout. Importantly, this lane would be specifically created for vehicles slowing to turn, not for high-speed thru traffic as is currently the case with right-turners from Rt. 14 into the library. In addition, this new lane would likely have been required by IDOT in the future when the intersection was improved.
Would the roundabout make it more difficult to enter and exit the Library?
No. Currently, the Library’s exit onto Route 14 sees numerous backups at the traffic signal at Berry Road. With the new roundabout feature, traffic will be entering and exiting onto Lake Zurich Road, which sees 10 times less traffic than the 30,000 cars per day that travel along Route 14. Roundabouts are specifically designed to keep traffic moving smoothly and seamlessly without lights, and the Library will benefit from this feature as traffic will no longer queue up at Route 14 to exit at the light. In fact, the Library approved the roundabout design, which necessitated slightly more land to be purchased than was originally proposed.
Will the Library have input over the design and construction of the project?
Yes. The Village has been working very cooperatively with the Library to design the current plan, and in fact, the Village included the roundabout feature in response to the Library’s concerns about easier entry and exit at Lake Zurich Road. The Village has offered a seat at the construction coordination meetings and IDOT has also agreed to this approach. This will ensure that the Library has as much input as possible on project implementation.
How much will the total project cost, and who is paying for it?
The estimated total cost of the relocation is expected to be $5.9 million. The Library will bear none of the cost, and in fact, will be paid its appraised price (subject to IDOT concurrence) for the 2.53 acre parcel of land required to complete the project and will save $882,000 on the re-paving of its parking lot. 75% of the road relocation project cost will be paid for by federal and state funds, with the remaining 25% paid for by budgeted Village capital improvement funds.
What happens to the funding if the Library does not act now?
Currently, this project is fully funded. However, as we have seen with various budget issues at the federal and state level over the past decade, and with some newer revisions to federally programmed local road funding dollars, what is available today may not be available in the future. In order to not lose our funding and to achieve a much safer intersection for this community as soon as possible, the Village is ready to move forward on this project. The funding is available today, but it may not be available tomorrow.
What can I do to get involved?
If you support the project, please email or write to the Library Board of Trustees (www.barringtonarealibrary.
org) before their April board meeting to let them know of your support. Also, please encourage your friends and neighbors throughout the Barrington area to do the same, as this project will make our entire community more safe at that intersection.
Read more information on the Village website at www.barrington-il.gov.