Galena is a relatively small town located in the unglaciated tip of northwest Illinois. Approximately 85 percent of the town is included in the Galena Historic District with many of the individual structures also listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The well-preserved history of the town combined with its downtown shopping district, make Galena a popular tourist destination along the US 20 corridor. US 20, locally known as Spring Street, is a two lane highway running north-south through Galena. Regionally, US 20 connects Chicago and Rockford, Illinois with Dubuque, Iowa. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) proposed a rehabilitation of US 20 through Galena. Need for rehabilitation arose from frequent rear-end accidents resulting from the lack of turn lanes and complicated by the steep local topography, characteristic of Galena. Additionally, the existing roadway lacked a storm sewer system, resulting in pavement and building flooding issues during high rainfall events.
The original proposal explored the addition of a bi-directional center turn lane to reduce traffic safety issues on US 20 and the installation of a curb and gutter storm sewer system. The proposed three-lane design was met with strong public opposition due to concerns over loss of historic character within the historic district. IDOT exchanged the three-lane design for two 12-foot wide lanes with 12-foot wide left turn lanes located at Dodge Street and Summit Street. The left turn lanes and wide shoulders are expected to alleviate traffic concerns and a new storm sewer system will address flooding issues.
Prairie Engineers staff, while with a former employer, prepared a historic structures photo log using photographs of each structure along the corridor and a historic resource inventory supplied by the City. Features that define the Galena Historic District such as wrought iron fencing, stone walls, stone curbing, and stone-lined ditches were also included in photo descriptions. The photo log was incorporated into a Joint Section 106/4(f) Report that provided details of the proposed project and further information for each property. These documents assisted IDOT and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) with making determinations regarding the historic status of each structure and the extent of mitigation needed to rectify any impacts to these properties. Through close coordination with the Galena Historic Preservation Board, IDOT was able to eliminate any property acquisitions within the Galena Historic District. One property acquisition located outside of the historic district was expected. Property impacts were limited to temporary easements and minimal right-of-way acquisition.
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