Federal money to eliminate bottleneck
$2 million for long-term bypass project
by Chris Brenner – Staff Writer
MILLBURN – Initial federal funding was announced Tuesday
for the Millburn bypass highway project that will eliminate
the "Millburn Strangler" intersection of Route 45 and Grass
Lake and Millburn roads.
U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Barrington, and other government
officials announced that $2.08 million in federal
transportation funding has been approved by Congress for
the project to bypass the two T-intersections on Route 45,
each controlled by a traffic signal, in the Millburn
Historic District, which would remain intact.
The funding is part of the $286.5 billion in the recently
approved Federal Highway Bill. A total of $25 million of
that is for projects in the three-county 8th Congressional
District with $12.6 million in Lake County, Bean said.
Officials stressed the money is for engineering costs with
subsequent funds needed for completion to be appropriated
later. Lake County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt of Lake
Villa estimated the completed project could take "five, six
or seven years. It's a long process. I hope I'm still in
She noted that the intersection improvement at Rollins Road
and Route 45, which will open next month, took five years
The total Millburn bypass project costs are estimated at
$15 million, said Lake County Division of Transportation
Director Marty Buehler. He said it is a state road project.
Buehler said the bypass would begin north of the
intersections about where the large curve on Route 45
begins. The bypass would be constructed west of the current
Route 45 and cross Grass Lake Road west of Route 45. The
bypass would continue south past the Millburn Road
intersection and return to Route 45.
There would be access form both directions to the Historic
Millburn District on what would then be old Route 45, he
"We are happy to get the seed money to get the project in
the pipeline," Buehler said.
Because of advanced planning by Lindenhurst officials in
obtaining rights of way in the nearby Forest Trails and
Heritage Trails subdivisions, no houses will need to be
razed, said Lindenhurst Mayor Jim Betustak.
Also, he said, historic Millburn, one of the oldest
communities in Lake County, will not be affected and the
antique shops there will not be affected either.
"With this funding we can now say that the Millburn
Strangler will no longer be a menace to this community,"
She said that Lindenhurst, Lake Villa, Antioch and Gurnee
are among the fastest-growing towns in Lake County.
"that growth is projected to continue and with congestion
at this intersection already a problem, building a bypass
to improve traffic flow simply could not wait a few more
years for federal attention.
"After a long day at work, people want to be home with
their families. The last thing they want to do is sit in
traffic," Bean said, noting the bypass "will improve the
quality of life."
Betustak said the intersections in all four directions are
consistently backed up at the traffic signals during
morning and evening rush hours. He noted Grass Lake and
Millburn roads are major traffic routes for persons living
in western Lake County to use to get to and from the
Illinois tollway and work places along the Lake Michigan
Schmidt said she was pleased "we are getting our foot in
the door" for federal funding for the project. "Once you
get in and the project gets started, the rest of the
project follows," she said.
She said she and Lake County Board Member Judy Martini of
Antioch coined the term "Millburn Strangler" in the mid-
1990s when major traffic problems surfaced at the
Before the intersections were controlled by traffic signals
several years ago, the only traffic controls were at first
stop signs on Millburn and Grass Lake roads at Route 45 and
then four-way stops in both intersections.
"This is a great day for us," Schmidt said in thanking Bean
for her work in obtaining funds. "I've bugged her and the
whole Illinois delegation" to get funding for the project.
Betustak also thanked Bean for her work in obtaining
funding. He said village officials have been working for
several years preparing for the intersection improvement.
"The door is finally open," he said.
He said there has been a recurring debate as to whether the
Chicago Cubs would go to the World Series or the Millburn
Strangler work would begin first. "We found out the answer
today," the mayor said.
Schmidt said the "Millburn Strangler is a huge problem. It
deserves a terrible name because it is a terrible problem."
Other federally funded Lake County road improvement
projects in the 8th Congressional District, Bean said, are:
$1.9 million for intersection reconstruction at Route
120 and Bacon Road
$480,000 for signalization improvements on Midlothian
Road for widening, signalization and pedestrian
crosswalk installation near Lake Zurich High School
that will provide crosswalks and sidewalks and
$668,800 for Rand Road transit signal coordination in
Cook and Lake counties from Des Plaines to Wauconda
to reduce congestion.
$2.7 million for widening Washington Street from
Cemetery Road to Great American in Gurnee.
$4.8 million for extension of Atkinson Road in
Grayslake to relieve congestion on routes 120, 83,
$800,000 for intersection reconstruction at routes 83
and 132 in Lake Villa.