MAHOMET — Phase one is underway, and preparations have begun for phase two as the village of Mahomet replaces decades-old pavement on Sunny Acres Road south from East Oak Street (U.S. 150) to South Mahomet Road.
As the work progresses, some residents are expressing concern about portions of the village’s plans. But part of the effort will result in wide, solid shoulders on Sunny Acres Road that homeowners also are praising.
Ellen Hedrick, engineer for the village, said this week that there are three basic phases of work on the road. Phase one is new pavement south of the railroad tracks to South Mahomet Road, and that effort is underway.
The detour around Sunny Acres Road, a north-south artery in town, already takes motorists who are headed south from East Oak Street west to Illinois 47, down to South Mahomet Road and then back east to areas south of the railroad tracks in that portion of the village. Traffic heading from south to north takes a reverse version of that detour.
Next, in preparation for phase two, some culverts along Sunny Acres Road may soon be replaced. In that phase, the northbound lane or east side of the road will be rebuilt. Shoulder work soon will begin on the west side, too, and mailboxes will be removed and clustered in one location for all residents along the roadway. Homeowners will be notified of the exact timing of this via door hangers, Hedrick said. That work likely will commence after Easter.
Phase three calls for the southbound lane or west side of Sunny Acres Road in this area to be replaced.
Weather will dictate much of the timing on what phases are done and when, Hedrick noted.
Alfonso and Kathryn Valdes live along Sunny Acres Road. The former California residents, who have been in Mahomet since 2011, have concerns about the overall project. For one thing, Alfonso said he likes bicycling on rural roads south of the railroad tracks from Sunny Acres Road.
“One of problems I have is that this is the only north-south access across the tracks for a significant distance. A lot of the reasons I go down there is I ride my bike on the farm roads,” he said. “(There is) not whole a lot of traffic to deal with.”
He’s communicated with Hedrick, and she suggested other bike paths in town. He found the speed limit on one, for example, is 5 mph.
“I ride kind of briskly. My top speed was 34 miles per hour that day. So that doesn’t substitute for me,” Alfonso explained.
A big issue for Alfonso and Kathryn also is the expected week or so that the end of their driveway might be torn up due to road work.
“A week is a long time,” Alfonso said. “They say they’re going to put notices on the door so we’re checking every day. Some of the houses will have access to a side street. We do not.”
According to Hedrick, access for most residents to their driveways will be made using loose rock while the ends of the driveways are redone.
“They’re going to leave gaps. They’ll tear all the pavement out, and then they’ll put ... temporary rock that gets put in there,” she said. “We’re really hoping to only have a week at the most that somebody might be out of a driveway.”
Most residents will be able to park on nearby side streets, Hedrick said, although she recognizes that’s not ideal.
“It’s going to be inconvenient, there’s no doubt,” she added.
Alfonso agrees that the work must be done.
“It’s past its shelf life and it’s in terrible shape,” he said. But he contends that residents have been left partly in the dark.
“If the project had been planned so that these access questions had been addressed up front, then it might be easier on everybody,” Alfonso said. “I get the feeling that the goalposts keep moving, and not in a favorable direction. We’re not getting our due consideration.”
Kathryn said, “I think not having an access road before they started doing this is the difficulty.”
The couple have more general concerns about traffic in the village, as well.
“My concern about not having another north-south road is that when this does open again, it’s going to be widened, and (Hedrick) said that the lanes aren’t going to be widened but that the road is, and people already speed down here, and when they see a wide road, they’re just going to (break the speed limit),” Kathryn said. “What I see happening in Mahomet is that they’re building, building, building, but they’re not doing anything about increasing roads or thinking about traffic flow and that sort of thing, so we’ll go through all this and then in the end, we’re not going to be better off.
“I’m just concerned that after all this — I know the road needs to be replaced — but after all this, are we going to be better off? And I don’t think so,” she said. “There’s so much building, but they’ve got to think about traffic flow and how it impacts all the individual homes that are already here.
“It’s really putting all the pressure on this one road, so when they finish it, it’s going to be so full of traffic that it’s going to wear the road down faster than probably it’s meant to be handling,” Kathryn added.
Hedrick confirmed that the traffic lanes on Sunny Acres Road will remain the same width, but what will be added is a wide shoulder.
“We’re putting the 11-foot lane back, but then we have a 4-foot shoulder that goes on that,” Hedrick said. “The shoulder initially is rock, and then at the very end of the project, we will sealcoat it so it’s not loose rock. It’ll be bikeable and walk-able. That’s what we want here.”
Nearby Alfonso and Kathryn, residents Mike and Becky Stucker have lived along Sunny Acres Road since 1994. They, too, said they feel a bit uninformed about the details of the road project.
“Our other neighbor has been keeping me informed on emails but (I’m) still not clear yet on what’s going to happen,” Becky said. “They haven’t gotten this far so I don’t know. It just sounds like a nightmare to me.
“We want to have a baby shower and we’re going to just plan it somewhere else because we really have not heard if we’re going to be able to get into our driveway,” she added.
They also agree that the pavement on Sunny Acres Road has outlived its usefulness.
“It’s rough,” Mike said.
Becky added, “The culverts are a problem. They’re rising.”
Hedrick indicated that the Stuckers are among those whose culverts will be replaced as the roadway is redone. And the couple said they’re glad that the road’s shoulder will be wider, even though the lanes themselves will remain the same width.
“We’re kind of excited about it because in the past, we’ve had our mailbox run over several times. Maybe the shoulder will help out,” Becky said. “They go pretty fast on this road.”
Looking back on their decades in Mahomet, the Stuckers say the signs of the village’s growth are clear to them.
“There is quite a bit — there’s definitely more traffic,” Mike said. “It’s just busier now. But we’re going back to 1994 when we were there. Mahomet’s doubled in size so anything’s going to be more.”
Hedrick encourages residents with questions to call her at the village office at 217-586-4456, ext. 202, or via her cellphone at 217-991-0455. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.