BEECHER — Beecher residents have heard promises before about when Goodenow Road will open. And they have been disappointed.
In an interview Monday, Will County Engineer Jeff Ronaldson said the road will open within the next week, perhaps as early as today. He said the exact date of the opening depends on a review by the state Department of Transportation.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s ready to go,” Ronaldson said.
Some dirt work remains, but that can be done while flaggers direct cars along the road, he said.
The project targeted a small section of Goodenow near Highway 394/1 that’s been closed since May 2018. The project is designed to improve the road, drainage and a bridge.
In a Sept. 18 interview, Ronaldson said the road would open the next week, but on Monday, he said that did not happen because rain prevented crews from completing dirt work.
Residents have been frustrated because the project has appeared lifeless for long periods while they take alternate, more time-consuming routes.
“Every time you call the county, they say here’s the date it’s going to be finished, but it’s never finished. It drags on,” resident Tim Borgman said in an interview. “The back roads are so messed up because more traffic is on them.”
Borgman has an email trail demonstrating the county’s past promises.
On Nov. 21, 2018, Borgman wrote the county highway department, “Beecher posted (Goodenow) was going to be open the week of Thanksgiving about a week ago.”
In a response that day, Brian Gieseke, an engineer with the county highway department, confirmed the project was initially slated to be finished by Thanksgiving. But he said the construction of a box culvert had been slowed by the lack of properly certified materials to incorporate in the concrete pour.
“At this time, we hope to have minimal lanes of traffic open before mid-December and before the availability of an asphalt plant for materials ends for the winter,” Gieseke said.
In a Dec. 17 email to Borgman, though, Gieseke said the county highway department decided the project wouldn’t be completed in 2018 and that the road would be closed throughout the winter.
Ronaldson said in an interview last month that the project was supposed to have been completed last year, but there were utility-related delays — first with Nicor, then with ComEd.
“The contractor did everything they could to move the project along,” he said.
Diverting traffic has taken a toll on nearby Ashland and Eagle Lake roads, both maintained by Beecher-based Washington Township.
“We are planning to tar and chip Ashland and part of Eagle Lake this fall if weather permits,” township highway commissioner Jerry Meyer said in an email.