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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Normal road closure, roundabout to be constructed

Rachel Cormier
Road blocks and a “road closed” sign restricts vehicles from entering Normal Road on Aug. 29 at the intersection of Normal Road and Lucinda Avenue The road is blocked off from vehicles while plans to resurface the road and a roundabout is planned for the intersection in the summer. (Rachel Cormier | Northern Star)

DeKALB Students and staff will need to keep their eyes on the road as closures and upcoming construction may waylay their schedule.

Barricades were set up Aug. 17 on Normal Road between Lucinda Avenue and West Locust Street. Closure of Normal is to accommodate construction that will be occurring along Lucinda for a planned roundabout where Lucinda meets Normal Road, according to DeKalb City Engineer Zac Gill.

The city of DeKalb has looked into resurfacing Lucinda Avenue but found it’s in need of more than just resurfacing, Gill said. Lucinda Avenue is in need of reconstruction. 

The major intersection between Lucinda Avenue and Normal Road has been looked at by the city of DeKalb and deemed deficient with ADA compliance, Gill said. 

“The ramps, the crossings, things like that; there isn’t an appropriate audible detection system or signals for pedestrians or those with disabilities,” Gill said.

After coordination between city engineers, the university and the Disability Resource Center, a roundabout was deemed the best course of action to keep the area safe for pedestrians.

The roundabout is currently in its design phase with construction targeted for summer. There is no timetable for the project due to how early it is.

In the meantime, Lucinda will be resurfaced and have reconstruction done to the sidewalks and ramps along the corridor up to Annie Glidden Road. 

“I think it’s transformative, I’m excited,” Gill said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the university, and that means our community.”

While planning for the roundabout it was decided to make the roundabout three-laned, transforming what is now south bound Normal Road into a sidewalk. While construction won’t start this year, the closed off area of Normal Road gives NIU students, staff and faculty a chance to use the open pedestrian area, Gill said.

As of now NIU and DeKalb plan on making the closed off section of Normal Road into more of a public space. This includes reducing the amount of cement walkways and hosting public events like the food trucks occurring Aug 30.

The closed off section of Normal Road is currently city property that may be turned over to NIU but this would be years down the line, according to Associate Vice President for Facilities Management and Campus Services John Heckmann. 

“The vision is to likely tear up the asphalt and put in grass, maybe even some shrubs and trees, something to turn it into an area that blends in with MLK commons,” Heckmann said. “That is the common vision with the city.”

While traffic is not allowed at the barricaded section of Normal Road, large deliveries or emergency responses will be allowed.

Funding for the roundabout project comes from Surface, Transportation, Urban funds from the federal government given to the City of DeKalb. Funds from STU can only be used for federal aid routes like Lucinda Avenue.

The construction contract for resurfacing  of Lucinda and construction of the roundabout will be up for bid in Spring 2024 and costs are estimated to be as high as $2 million.

To make up for Normal Road’s closure, the bridge connecting Lucinda Avenue and Miller Avenue has had its detour suspended. Utility work will continue on the bridge throughout fall. The heavier construction needed to finish the bridge will restart in April 2024. Late estimates for the bridge completion going into June, with overlap possibly happening with the construction projects on Lucinda Avenue.

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