The Illinois Department of Transportation's construction project along John Deere Road in Moline is costing the city thousands of dollars officials did not foresee spending this year.
When crews cut 60th and 70th streets down to one lane last month, traffic jams overwhelmed the area that encompasses Menards, Sam’s Club and Blain's Farm & Fleet.
“We tried to change the timing of traffic signals, but we found out the first weekend that wasn’t going to cut it,” City Engineer Scott Hinton said.
In some cases, Hinton added, motorists waited up to 30 minutes in traffic to drive less than a mile from Green Valley Sports Complex, located off 60th Street south of the cluster of businesses, to John Deere Road.
So, before the first weekend in May, the city purchased new traffic control devices and deployed about a dozen staffers from various departments to manually operate the signals and direct traffic in the area.
Delays decreased to about five minutes the following weekend, Hinton said, crediting the extra hands on deck.
City employees, who are earning overtime pay for their efforts, will return to their posts Saturday and Sunday for the third consecutive weekend, and probably every weekend through the rest of the summer.
Specifically, personnel from the public works and police departments will manage traffic at seven intersections along 60th and 70th streets as well as 41st Street near the Wal-Mart Supercenter. Additional staff will help direct motorists in and out of Green Valley Sports Complex and the adjacent soccer fields.
To reduce congestion at the intersection of 60th Street and John Deere Road, the city wants Menards customers to exit the shopping center via 70th Street.
While the city has not processed payroll since the first week of May, interim City Administrator J.D. Schulte said he estimates the extra hours cost the city between $500 and $700 per weekend.
“We didn’t know that it was going to take this much intervention to keep traffic flowing this smooth,” he said.
But Schulte said the amount of sales tax revenue the city receives from those big-box retailers justify the investments.
“John Deere Road has the largest traffic count in the Quad-Cities,” he said. “That is the mecca for retail and transportation in the Quad-Cities.”
Schulte added that he is confident the city's operational budget will cover the extra costs.
Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri said she also backs the plan, noting that if the city simply ignored the issue, Moline's revenue would take a hit.
"We need to make sure those sales tax dollars are secure and flowing and this is one way of doing that," she said.
Meanwhile, crews remain on track with their work along John Deere Road, John Wegmeyer, project implementation engineer for the DOT, said.
The project will reconstruct and widen a 2.5-mile stretch of John Deere Road from west of 38th Street near Interstate 74 to east of 70th Street.
The agency awarded the $51.1 million contract to the Davenport-based McCarthy Improvement Company in the fall of 2015.
Crews this summer are removing and replacing the roadway's eastbound lanes.
Once the section between I-74 and 38th Street is finished, Wegmeyer said the DOT will reopen the intersection at 38th Street and John Deere Road, which he anticipates will happen around the Fourth of July.
Next year, crews will remove and replace the westbound lanes.
At completion, John Deere Road will have six lanes of traffic.