Motorists driving in and around Lebanon next month may have a few more headaches than usual.
Begining on Sept. 8, workers plan to close the intersection of U.S. 50 and Illinois 4 in town for 30 days to install a new traffic signal, add a turn lane and rebuild the intersection pavement.
As part of the project, workers plan to add a right-turn lane from northbound Route 4 to eastbound Route 50 in order to help make it easier for trucks to turn, said Tony Schenk, a project engineer with Rhutasel and Associates, Inc., consultants on the project.
The project is meant to move traffic more efficiently through what is now a four-way stop intersection. The intersection, which sees lots of truck traffic, often backs up.
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The $839,000 project is being paid for with state and federal money.
Even with this project, IDOT is carrying out engineering work for a future Lebanon Bypass. IDOT owns most of the land necessary to bypass Route 50 traffic south of town.
Workers have completed necessary utility work at the intersection, including work on gas lines, telephone lines and water lines, Schenk said.
Engineers have planned two detours, one for local traffic and one for truck traffic that usually goes through town.
Truck traffic is planned to be detoured around town through other state routes including traveling on Illinois 160 instead of Illinois 4, and using Interstate 64, Illinois 161 or U.S. Route 40 instead of U.S. Route 50. The detour is expected to limit the amount of truck traffic going through town.
Local traffic will be directed away from the intersection using Acorn Way, Monroe Street, Schuetz Street and Fritz Street.
“I’m sure things won’t be smooth to begin with,” Schenk said. “I hope people will get used to the detour route and bear with us during the 30-day closure.
Schenk said signs will be on Interstate 64 and 70 warning motorists of the closure. Signs also are planned to be near the intersection.
“Anyone who goes through there will definitely know about it,” Schenk said.
Lebanon Mayor Rich Wilken acknowledged the intersection closure will be difficult when it’s in place.
“When we’re trying to make things better, you have to go through some pain and suffering to get to the better part,” Wilken said.
He added the work going on could help down the line with beautification efforts, such as a possible fountain or a refurbished cable car, around the intersection. Wilken said there even is economic development interest in some of the vacant buildings near the intersection.
“At least now we have some activity going on, and it kind of revolves around getting a new intersection in here,” Wilken said.