All of the major routes in the county have to be improved to handle the increased demand being placed on them. A toll road exit at Route 23 would reduce some of the burden being placed on Route 20. If necessary, bypasses will have to be constructed to insure that towns don't suffer excessive traffic congestion. All of this will require coordination at the federal, state, and county level to accomplish the task.
McHenry county is currently operating under a five year $122 million transportation plan that provides for improvements on ancillary roads but totally fails to address the primary transportation issue facing the county. All of the major highways in the country are operating at or above peak capacity. The transportation plan does nothing to address this issue. Improvements to the feeder roads without addressing the deficiencies of the primary routes will do little to improve transportation in McHenry county and may, in fact, make the problems of the main routes worse.
The transportation plan includes 19 bridge projects totaling $12 million. All of these are replacements. While the plan does include funding for a biannual bridge inspection and emergency bridge repairs, there is no provision for regular bridge maintenance. The average cost of a bridge replacement in the plan is $619,000. The reserve for emergency bridge repairs is $30,000 per year. Bridge replacements are the most expensive and disruptive road projects that can be undertaken. There is more to bridge maintenance than patching the pot holes and striping the road surface. Any comprehensive plan must include maintenance of existing bridge structures to make best use of tax dollars. Without provision for comprehensive, regular maintenance, the county will stumble from one expensive replacement to the next.
We can no longer afford to maintain the status quo. The state of transportation in McHenry country is causing business to leave the country. Without an infrastructure that enables businesses to move their products, they cannot afford to operate in the county. As we lose businesses the burden shifts to the remaining residents. An ever deepening hole is being created that, if allowed to continue, will stress our communities to the breaking point.