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Interstate 80 construction to begin Monday in Will County; New Lenox officials excited about project

Interstate 80 construction stretches into Will County this week, a project New Lenox officials said may increase traffic but will provided needed upgrades to the highway.

New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said he does not anticipate a big increase in traffic through the village because Laraway Road is already under construction from Gougar to Cedar roads, so drivers have become accustomed to detours.

But as the I-80 project continues, the village will be able to handle a potential increase in traffic, he said.

“We’re prepared to handle it and it’s important that that work is getting done,” Baldermann said. “Nobody likes construction but I-80 has been bad for so long so this is an important project.”

The next phase will begin Monday, weather permitting, and widen nearly 12 miles of highway through Will County, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The construction will take place over the next three weeks, officials said, and include overnight lane closures.

Beginning this week, overnight lane clusters are scheduled from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in both directions of I-80 between Rowell Avenue and Gougar Road, according to IDOT. Drivers should expect changing lane patterns and closed shoulders in the work zone.

The week beginning April 8, lanes will shift onto temporary pavement on westbound I-80 between River and Ridge roads. To accommodate the work, drivers can anticipate lane closures from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., officials said.

During the week of April 15, eastbound I-80 traffic will be shifted to the westbound lanes and traffic will be separated with concrete barriers between Ridge and River roads. During this construction phase, overnight lane closures will take place in both directions from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., officials said.

Two lanes in each direction of I-80 will remain open during the construction work, officials said, but drivers should be prepared for narrowed lanes and closed shoulders throughout the 12-mile work zone.

The project will cost $1.3 billion and is funded through the state’s Rebuild Illinois capital program, officials said.

“We are excited to enter the next major stage for one of the cornerstone projects of Rebuild Illinois,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman in a new release. “As we continue to make huge steps forward with I-80, together we can deliver the project safely and successfully.”

The I-80 project will redesign and rebuild 16 miles of road from Ridge Road in Minooka to U.S. 30 in Joliet and New Lenox, officials said. The work includes rebuilding interchanges at Interstate 55, Illinois 7, Center Street, Chicago Street, Richards Street and Briggs Street.

The project will also include a new flyover ramp linking southbound I-55 to eastbound I-80 and rehabilitation or replacement of more than 30 bridges, officials said.

Later this spring, similar closures will be implemented to extend the work from River Road to Wheeler Avenue. That work will take place at the I-55, Larkin Avenue, Richards Street and Briggs Street interchanges, officials said.

Later this year, all ramps at the Richards Street interchange are expected to close through the end of 2025. Ramps at the I-55 and Larkin Avenue interchanges will close at times in 2025 and 2026 as the interchanges are rebuilt and reconfigured, officials said.

Once this phase of the project is completed, Center Street and Chicago Street interchanges will be reconstructed and the I-80 bridges over the Des Plaines River will be replaced beginning in 2026, officials said.

The overall construction work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2028, with landscaping, bridge demolition and miscellaneous work extending into 2029, officials said.

The road conditions on I-80 have been bad for many years, Baldermann said, so this project will improve driving conditions and encourage people to visit the village.

“This project is a long needed project. I’m glad to see the state is moving forward with it,” Baldermann said. “We have to think about the long-term quality of our community.”

akukulka@chicagotribune.com