After three years of lane closures, overpass closures, detours, reduced speed limits, traffic backups, and crashes, the Highway 41 expansion project in Winnebago County is finally done. And you know what? It looks like it will be well worth it.
I had the opportunity to use the new Butte Des Morts Causeway on the way out to and back from Lake Breeze Golf Course yesterday and it was great not having to fight to merge with traffic at either end of the bridge. The extra lane on each side is perfect for those accessing Highway 45 from the 21 interchange since your lane heads right up the off-ramp. I'm hoping that will ease the backups we see every Friday afternoon during the summer with people heading up north--and then every Sunday evening on southbound 45 as everybody heads back home.
As much as those of us who can do math hated the "Stimulus Package", it was nice that this work could get done a couple of years earlier than first expected. Better to go through the inconvenience of all the shutdowns sooner rather than later. What would the Country USA backups have been like if we still had just the two lanes of 41 south of the Causeway this year? Those people would still be out there waiting to get into the camping area to get drunk. (Although I do have to wonder, now that the project is complete, what happens to the "jobs created by the Stimulus spending"? Those crews got to work earlier--but then also ran out of projects earlier as well. Sounds like a reason for Stimulus 2!! Or is it Stimulus 3? I'm so stimulated, I'm losing track.)
If there is anything to complain about, it would--of course--be the proliferation of roundabouts on all of the side streets passing over the highway. I'm also not sure why we had to put paintings of fish on the Causeway supports. I guess boaters want to appreciate some art on their way to Fremont to get drunk. And I wish that there was a more prominent display to the workers that were killed and injured in the crane collapse. The DOT is putting a plaque along the walking trail over the Causeway--but I think something that can be spotted along the roadway would be better.
So now it's time to enjoy the benefits of our years of sacrifice. A faster, safer stretch of highway designed to handle our transportation needs for the next 25-years. And unlike the Illinois Tollway, we don't have to thrown money out the window every couple of miles (or put a plastic box on our windshields). Also unlike the Illinois Tollway, the crews aren't going back to where they started and doing it all over again.