County Farm and Roosevelt roads

Officials say there are a number of safety and operational problems at County Farm and Roosevelt roads, which is near the DuPage County government complex and St. Francis High School in Wheaton. (Quan Truong, Chicago Tribune / February 3, 2014)

More than a decade after efforts began to improve the intersection of Roosevelt and County Farm roads in Wheaton, the project is making some progress, though still without any funding identified for the fix.

"Even if we get funding tomorrow, we're still roughly 12 to 18 months away from anything getting built," said John Baczek, project and environmental studies section chief for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

IDOT last year hired a consultant for the design of the project after DuPage County completed a preliminary engineering study that was paid for by the state, county and city of Wheaton.

The goal is to address a number of safety and capacity concerns at the intersection, which is near the county's government complex and St. Francis High School. Proposed improvements include adding turn lanes and traffic signal modifications, pedestrian and biking improvements, along with fixes at Roosevelt and Shaffner roads.

In a three-year period from 2006 to 2008, there were 175 crashes in that corridor, Baczek said. Of those, 67 involved injuries, and there was one fatality. More than half were rear-end crashes and more than a quarter were crashes that involved turns.

"Rear-end crashes are typically associated with congestion and operational issues," Baczek said. "In the data collection analysis, we identified several needs....Long delays and also safety problems out there."

Interest in fixing the intersection began about 15 years ago, when Grant Eckhoff was a Wheaton councilman from 1998 to 2002. During his term, the city, county and state agreed to fund a preliminary engineering study for the corridor, something that wasn't completed until recently. Eckhoff is now a DuPage County board member.

"It's been bad for years, since they moved the courthouse over there. It certainly hasn't gotten any better," Eckhoff said, noting that he has seen students at St. Francis dart across the street in busy traffic to get to the retail center.

The city and county each put in $133,500 and the state picked up about $95,000 for the preliminary engineering study. An estimate in 2011 showed construction could cost roughly $6.3 million, with another $2.6 million for right-of-way and property acquisition.

Although a consultant has been hired to start design work, the project hasn't been identified in IDOT's 2014-2019 improvement program.

Baczek called it a priority for the state, but also a "wish list item." The list of projects in the program is reviewed each year, he said, so it's possible that the County Farm and Roosevelt roads project could be added in the future.

"At this point, there isn't funding for construction but they'll be slowly working on getting this pulled together and getting the details worked out so if and when funding becomes available, they'll be able to get this going," he said.

qtruong@tribune.com | Twitter: @QuanATruong