History

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Model T circa 1918 working through the mud

Getting Illinois Out of the Mud

Prior to 1913, roads within the State of Illinois were the responsibility of the individual townships. Under the Tice Act of 1913, the state legislature created the County Superintendent of Highways position, now known as the County Engineer.

The Superintendent of Highways has to meet specific criteria and pass selective tests before being appointed by the state. Ultimately, this legislative action shifted the responsibility for building the road system in Illinois from townships to counties.

At the time, most of the roads in Illinois were dirt roads and inclement weather made them impossible to navigate. There was a growing movement to develop a hard roads system to “get Illinois out of the mud.” Working closely with the State Highway Commission, County Highway Departments began building, and in some cases maintaining, state roads until 1959.

Birth of the County Highway System

Prior to 1913, roads within the State of Illinois were the responsibility of the individual townships. Under the Tice Act of 1913, the state legislature created the County Superintendent of Highways position, now known as the County Engineer. 

The Superintendent of Highways has to meet specific criteria and pass selective tests before being appointed by the state. Ultimately, this legislative action shifted the responsibility for building the road system in Illinois from townships to counties.

At the time, most of the roads in Illinois were dirt roads and inclement weather made them impossible to navigate. There was a growing movement to develop a hard roads system to “get Illinois out of the mud.” Working closely with the State Highway Commission, County Highway Departments began building, and in some cases maintaining, state roads until 1959.

1912 election material
Old Lake County Map

Coming of Age

Prior to 1985, the Lake County Highway Department was primarily focused on the county road system -- that changed with the adoption of Public Act 84-756, which mandated that counties with a population over 600,000 create a Division of Transportation and appoint a County Director of Transportation. The new Division of Transportation was responsible for every aspect of transportation; from planning and construction, to maintenance and operations.

Moving into the 21st Century

Recent expansions of Lake County highways include the extension of Cedar Lake Road from Illinois Route 120 to Illinois Route 60, and the Rollins Road extension from U.S. Route 45 to Grand Avenue in Gurnee. In addition, the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) installed three modern roundabouts and more roundabout intersections are planned.


LCDOT created Lake County PASSAGE, which provides real-time traffic information about arterial roads, so motorists can anticipate, plan and avoid gridlock. The PASSAGE intelligent transportation system uses interconnected signals to manage traffic flow and monitor traffic conditions. 


In 2013, the 100th year of operation, LCDOT undertook one of its most ambitious construction seasons in history. Some projects included:

  • Rollins Road grade separation from the CN Railroad in Round Lake Beach
  • Fairfield Road and Illinois Route 176 intersection improvement
  • Widening of Washington Street from Cedar Lake Road to Hainesville Road
  • Installation of a roundabout at the intersection of Cedar Lake and Monaville Roads
  • Widening of Peterson Road from U.S. Route 45 to Illinois Route 83
Cedar Lake Rd and Monaville Rd Roundabout
RndLkBeach_150
WashingtonStreet10182017

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