U.S. 20 project in East Dubuque to kick off in May

EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. — A road project will impact traffic on a busy stretch of highway in East Dubuque this spring and summer, but officials say no detours will be necessary and that the work will increase safety.

The project will transform U.S. 20 to three lanes from four from Sixth Street, just east of Van’s Liquor Store, to Camillus Drive, where Family Beer & Liquor is located. East Dubuque City Manager Loras Herrig provided an update on the $2 million project at a City Council meeting this week.

Herrig recently attended a preconstruction meeting and learned that work is anticipated to start around May 1, with completion slated for about July 1. He said the project will “help tremendously” to make that section of U.S. 20 safer, as the area has been the site of several crashes.

“We’ve had a fair amount of accidents on that stretch of highway, and we’re excited about this investment being made in our community,” Herrig said after the meeting.

The city is responsible for $37,864 of the project’s $2 million cost.

Work will include the removal of a raised median and reconfiguration of traffic lanes to create an eastbound lane, a westbound lane and a bi-directional center turn lane. Pavement patching and resurfacing also will take place.

Michael Kuehn, an Illinois Department of Transportation studies and plans engineer, said motorists will not be detoured while the project is underway, as work will be completed in stages.

“There will be one lane open in each direction at all times,” he said, noting that flaggers occasionally might be used to direct traffic.

He said the addition of a bi-directional turn lane will reduce the risk of rear-end crashes. Data from the Illinois DOT shows that there were 15 front-to-rear collisions in that stretch of U.S. 20 from 2016 to 2020.

“Right now, you have a situation where you have two lanes in each direction. If someone is making a turn onto, say, Timmerman Drive or one of the other side roads, someone behind them may not recognize that they’re turning and rear-end them,” Kuehn said. “When we get the turning vehicles into a separate lane and the through traffic going in a different lane, there’s no intermixing or potential to rear-end someone else.”

City Council Member Robin Pearson said that the project will improve safety for motorists, residents and business owners.

“That turning lane is going to benefit quite a few people as they turn into places like Timmerman’s (Supper Club), as well as the residents who live on Highway 20,” she said.

The area slated for improvement does not include the intersection of U.S. 20 with Barge Terminal Road or Frentress Lake Road, two areas that also have seen multiple wrecks.

One was a crash in May 2016 involving a car and a semi tractor-trailer, in which an East Dubuque High School student sustained fatal injuries. The DOT lowered the speed limit from 65 to 55 mph from Barge Terminal Road to Camillus Drive later that month following lobbying efforts from municipal and school officials.

Kuehn said the state plans to complete improvements at both intersections in the coming years. Work at the Frentress Lake Road intersection will include the addition of an eastbound left turn lane, while the Barge Terminal Road intersection would see “some additional turn lanes, acceleration and deceleration lanes and limiting of some through accesses.”

“We are actively working on those (projects) and trying to get that completed here in the next few years,” he said.