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Huntley celebrates completion of Route 47 project

The ribbcutting ceremony for Route 47 widening improvement project Huntley Tuesday July 17 2012. | Katherine Peters~Sun-Times Media.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Route 47 widening and improvement project in Huntley on Tuesday July 17, 2012. | Katherine Peters~Sun-Times Media.

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Updated: December 9, 2012 6:52PM

HUNTLEY — The village board and staff, along with members of the Huntley Chamber of Commerce and more than 80 local residents, stood under the shade of a giant oak tree at Deicke Park on a hot evening Tuesday to witness a ribbon-cutting that celebrated the culmination of the mammoth Route 47 improvement project.

The two-year project was completed earlier this month.

Lane closures, construction barricades and earth-moving machines clogged Route 47 just two miles south of the ribbon-cutting in preparation for a second project, the village-led creation of a full interchange at I-90. But officials and residents were in good spirits over the progress made and optimistic about the long-term benefits the two projects will bring.

Village President Charles Sass opened the ceremony with a few words to the crowd.

“Two years of construction was difficult. Thank you for your patience and continued support at this time,” Sass said. “Together with the $69 million full interchange (at I-90), this project will set Huntley apart in the region and contribute to greater economic development.”

Work on the Route 47 road improvement began in May 2010 to widen the two-lane route into four lanes, plus add turn lanes and new traffic signalization, street lighting and sidewalks on both sides of the roadway. The 2½-mile stretch runs between Reed Road on the north and Kreutzer Road on the south. Costs for the project ran to $25 million and were split between the village of Huntley and the state of Illinois, with Huntley providing about $5.8 million and the state paying for the rest.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony echoed the one held by the village when the route was first constructed in 1936. In fact, several members of founding families were in attendance — including Frances Kreutzer, whose husband’s family settled in the village in 1861; and Carol Donahue, whose land lies along the Route 47 corridor where the ribbon-cutting took place.

“This is another milestone in the history of the village that we are moving forward,” said Kreutzer, who is a charter member of the Huntley Historical Society.

Many people affiliated with Sun City Huntley were on hand for the event, including Bob Laird, who works as a sales representative at the over-50 community.

“I’m very happy it is open,” Laird said. “The traffic flow is much better with the additional lanes. It was a painful process for many of the businesses, so I am really happy for them. It is really helpful to have it reopened.”

After the ceremony, residents reconvened under a pavilion at the park for ice cream and other light refreshments. Later in the evening, the crowd was entertained by the music of the BritBeat, a Beatles tribute band. Residents sat in lawn chairs and on blankets in the grass and enjoyed a picnic meal while taking in the music.

The ribbon-cutting event coincides with the village’s first-ever Huntley Days, designed to give residents the opportunity to show their appreciation for local businesses while taking advantage of major sales. Those events are continuing throughout this week.

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