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Another bump in the road for roundabout

Removal of gas main will further delay construction

STERLING – An issue with a utility company has delayed construction of a city roundabout planned at Lynn Boulevard and LeFevre Road.

The roundabout was to be completed this fall, to coincide with the timetable of a warehouse expansion project planned in the Meadowlands Business Park. That deadline is in jeopardy, however, since it was discovered that a Nicor gas main is in the construction area.

“We didn’t know that this gas main was there and they will have to move it,” Mayor Skip Lee said. “We hope it won’t throw us into next construction season, but Nicor is a big utility and they have a long list of projects.”

The gas main is the latest in a series of challenges that have threatened to send the project into next year. An historically wet spring made it difficult to get things started. Then in May, the city learned it would not receive a state grant it was counting on that could have been worth up to $500,000.

The city had been confident it would get the Economic Development Program Grant it had applied for from the Illinois Department of Transportation. The grant is awarded for road projects that are needed for access to new or expanding industry. The amount is tied to how many jobs are created or maintained by the new business or an expansion project.

The warehouse would immediately create 150 jobs, so at $30,000 for each job, the grant would have taken care of about half the project’s $942,021.14 price tag.

The city scrambled to figure out the financing and get everything in place so it could be approved by the City Council in time to still hit the October target date. The city will have to dig deeper into its sales tax revenue to make up the difference, which means less money for other road work.

Although the timeline is backed up, the plans remain the same. The city decided to spend an additional $50,000 for traffic control and temporary pavement to keep traffic flowing on LeFevre while work is done.

“It was an added cost, but we decided there was just no way we could shut down that road completely,” Lee said.

The city attributed the need for the roundabout to accident statistics compiled from a traffic analysis and the rapid growth of industries in the business park, especially Halo Branded Solutions, Menk USA, P&P Industries and Astec Mobile Screens.

The intersection now has stop signs, but only going north and south. The speed limit is 45 miles per hour. The speed limit in the single-lane roundabout will be 15 miles per hour.

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