ROCKTON - The intersection of Blackhawk Boulevard and Union Street in downtown Rockton is now closed for about the next 30 days for ongoing stoplight construction.
Tricia Diduch, Rockton planning and development administrator, said the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) closed the intersection on Monday.
Blackhawk Boulevard (Route 75) closed once again in March so construction crews could install a second set of stoplights in Downtown Rockton. Union Street has been open up until Monday with east/west traffic allowed. As of Monday, Route 75 is closed from Mechanic Street to Green Street.
Late last year, crews installed stoplights at the corner of Blackhawk Boulevard and Main Street. This year, they will install stoplights at Blackhawk Boulevard and Union Street.
Eric Gibson, resident engineer for the project, had said back in March crews are aiming to have the stoplights finished by Aug. 31, though there's a 15-day leeway period pending inclement weather or underground obstacles. He could not be reached by press time. Diduch said she is unaware of any changes to the construction deadline.
Diduch recommends drivers continue to use the Bridge Street detour to access the west portion of downtown.
Mark's Pizza, 615 N Blackhawk Blvd., and the Mobil gas station, 111 N Blackhawk Blvd., as well as other businesses off Blackhawk Boulevard will remain open during construction.
Officials from IDOT previously told the Beloit Daily News the traffic signals are a necessity and will move traffic much more efficiently, as four stop signs at an intersection is recommended when traffic is balanced. Since traffic is uneven between the two roads in Rockton, officials said the village fit the national recommendation for needing traffic signals. IDOT takes local traffic patterns and predictions on future patterns when designing stoplights. The village and IDOT will split maintenance costs, including electricity, 50/50.
Village officials, residents and business owners have expressed opposition to the project.
In 2013, the village board voted to send a letter to IDOT opposing the stoplights. However, since they are state managed thoroughfares the decision ultimately is up to the state organization.