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SIDNEY — The Champaign County Highway Department has six big projects lined up for 2021, with its largest slated for the road into Sidney.

The Sidney Slab from Illinois 130 on the west and the village on the east will be getting a new asphalt overlay, rumble strips, wider shoulders and reshaped ditches.

“If you’ve driven that road in the last few years, it’s getting pretty rough,” county engineer Jeff Blue said at a Champaign County Farm Bureau meeting last week. “It’s getting pretty much near the end of its life.”

He said the road was last improved around 2003, “so it’s pushing 20 years old.”

The Champaign County Highway Department received a federal grant to help pay for the project.

Currently, the road has about 12-foot lanes with two-foot gravel shoulders and power poles just outside the small ditches.

“This is a roadway that has some real safety issues,” Blue said. “There’s a lot of traffic on this roadway. The (average daily traffic) is high. The speeds are higher than they need to be, and we got a lot of things in close proximity to the roadway that if you errantly go off the road, you’re going to strike a pole, you’re going to strike a tree, you’re going to hit a culvert.”

This year, the shoulder will be widened to 6 feet, with the first 4 feet of that paved and a 2-foot gravel edge.

“Obviously this helps with errant vehicles,” Blue said. “It also helps with farm equipment that’s wider than its lane.”

He said asphalt shoulders require much less maintenance compared to gravel shoulders.

The culverts will also be replaced and the ditches will be reshaped so that if someone ends up in a ditch, Blue said, “hopefully that doesn’t end up in a fatality because the slopes of the ditch are shallow enough that somebody can traverse them in a vehicle if that happens to happen.”

The road surface will be rehabbed using a process called cold-in-place recycling.

With that, the top four inches are milled down and fed into a machine that mixes it with 2.5 percent emulsion asphalt, Blue said.

“Then those millings come out the back of that piece of equipment on a conveyor and into a paver, and it’s laid back out just like you’re paving a hot mix asphalt road,” Blue said. “What this gives us is a new sub-base in order to put our new hot mix asphalt on, and it’s very stable, but it’s also got some flexibility.”

After that, a 3-inch asphalt overlay will be added.

The new road will also have centerline and shoulder rumble strips, which Blue said has reduced crashes on other roads that have added them.

This project is being bid April 23, Blue said.

Also on tap for this year:

  • A bridge replacement southwest of Sadorus on County Road 17.
  • A bridge replacement north of Broadlands on County Road 13.
  • A bridge deck replacement near Flatville on County Road 11.
  • A bridge replacement west of Tolono on the west side of Interstate 57.
  • A bridge replacement near Compromise.

“All these bridges require road closing. We don’t do bridges under traffic,” Blue said. “It’s too dangerous. It costs us about 50 percent more to do a bridge when you’re trying to do it under traffic, and it just really isn’t worth it.”

Next year, the Champaign County Highway Department is planning to rebuild County Road 20, or Royal Road, that stretches from U.S. 45 to Royal.

“This roadway is not in horrible condition, but we have wheel rutting on this roadway,” he said. “When we get any kind of moisture — any rainfall, any snowmelt — the water gathers in those wheel ruts and you basically got to ride outside of the wheel ruts or you don’t have any control of your vehicle.”

The preliminary estimate for this project’s cost is $3 million, Blue said.

For 2023, the highway department received a federal grant to improve County Road 18, which runs from Philo on the west to U.S. 45, including in front of Unity High School.

“We’ve had some crash history out on this road, and actually had a fatality on this road a couple years ago,” Blue said. “It’s got narrow shoulders, it’s got steep ditches. It’s got all the things that you see that cause problems on roadways for people as far as being safe goes.”

This project is currently expected to cost around $5 million, Blue said.

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