November 20, 2019
Sidney/Homer Road (County Highway 15) in the southeastern part of Champaign County will soon be a safer place to drive thanks to collaboration between the RPC and Champaign County. The RPC prepared a grant request for the County as part of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). IDOT recently awarded the grant to Champaign County for the project.
Connecting Illinois Route 130 and the Village of Sidney, Sidney/Homer Road has seen an increase in the number of vehicle crashes over the past few years according to IDOT crash data and local police crash reports. The Champaign County Highway Department saw the need to update safety and conditions along the road and worked with the Champaign Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS) to develop the grant request. CUUATS is the RPC’s transportation entity responsible for administering the transportation planning process for the Champaign-Urbana urbanized area.
“The Champaign County Highway Department is investing a tremendous amount of resources in our community to help reduce fatalities and severe crashes on our secondary roadway network,” says Jeff Blue, the County Engineer with the Champaign County Highway Department. “Just recently there was a fatality along this stretch of road that may have been prevented by the countermeasures we are planning to have in place once this project is complete. Therefore, time is of the essence.”
Through the HSIP grant, Champaign County hopes to make several improvements to Sidney/Homer Road. Potential upgrades include earthwork to accommodate new shoulders and improve drainage, widening and upgrading shoulders from two feet to six feet with edge line rumble strips, providing centerline rumble strips along the entire 4.25 miles the road stretches, Cold In Place Recycling of the existing asphalt pavement, a three-inch asphalt overlay on top of the entire road, and the widening or replacing of drainage structures under the road.
The County is also looking at making improvements to roadway signs; enhancing pavement markings, and relocating power poles, which currently sit in close proximity to the road. The grant request put together by CUUATS determined several potential societal benefits that may result thanks to these proposed improvements and associated safety countermeasures, related mainly to crash characteristics such as severity, frequency, and average societal costs.
“The CUUATS staff is a great asset to our transportation community. With their expertise in planning and our expertise in project development and implementation we have a great partnership going on here in Champaign County,” comments Blue. “A partnership which will help our transportation system continue to be one of our greatest assets and keep our citizens safe when travelling around the county.”
The Champaign County Highway Department hopes to begin work on the Sidney/Homer Road improvements in the Spring of 2021, with work expected to last five months. The HSIP grant will provide nearly $2.4 million of the $4.5 million overall needed to complete the project.