Route 53 has notoriously been a dangerous highway for motor vehicle drivers, but the construction being completed there may soon alleviate the number of serious accidents. Last week marked the expected half-way point for the Illinois Department of Transportations (IDOT) Route 53 construction project, which began on August 29, 2011, and has an anticipated end date of October 17, 2013. Originally slated to end sooner, the project has been plagued with various setbacks, including several heat waves (effecting the ability to pour concrete) and a brief hiatus for the Labor Day holiday. Of course, drivers’ safety, however invaluable, does not come cheaply: this project will cost roughly $45 million.
The portion of Route 53, also known as Rohlwing Road, subject to construction consists of 4.1 miles running from Army Trail Road to the Elgin O’Hare Expressway. IDOT hopes that the project will reduce the congestion, which has plagued this stretch of road in recent years, leading to multiple car accidents and fatalities. Similarly aimed construction commenced on Butterfield Road (Route 56) in DuPage on June 1, 2011. The Rohlwing Road construction will include a second lane added in both directions and the intersections at Army Trail Road, Lake Street, and Irving Park Road will be improved to include additional through lanes, left turn lanes, barrier medians, and modernized traffic signals. As part of the project, part of Army Trail Road will also be reconstructed. A report released by the Addison Police Department showed that car accidents at the intersection of Route 53 and Army Trail Road had increased by 28% from the year 2009 to 2010; the intersection of Route 53 and Lake Street had increased by a remarkable 58%. These troubling statistics no doubt reinforced IDOT’s decision to commence construction.
While the ultimate goal is to reduce car accidents, DuPage County drivers must remember that construction work poses its own dangers. Not only does road construction cause delays, and increased (though temporary) congestion, shifting lanes, debris, and other unexpected factors, create a hazardous environment for all involved. Drivers who ignore speed limits and drive carelessly through the construction zone can easily cause accidents. In fact, the Addison Police Department found that the most common citation was “Failure to Reduce Speed to Avoid an Accident/Driving Too Fast for Conditions.” Car crashes in highway work zones resulted in 32 fatalities in Illinois in the year 2010 alone, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
Most highway construction projects are performed by private contractors, who must abide by certain safety regulations such as warning signs, lane markings, and traffic controllers. For this reason, accident cases stemming from road construction often require the injured party to show that the contractor responsible for the construction either failed to follow safety protocols or did not receive proper training for carrying out these regulations. Government ordered construction, performed by government workers, can also raise questions of immunity and/or limitations on the injured party’s recovery. An experienced DuPage personal injury attorney can be invaluable in determining who was at fault and why, and in obtaining reports and citations, or preserving evidence for your case.
With one more year of construction before the project’s completion, DuPage drivers should expect continued delays on Route 53 and should consider alternate routes and public transportation in the meantime.