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100 Years - Lake County Division of Transportation


Important Dates: History of the Lake County Division of Transportation

1913 – Tice Act created the position of County Superintendent of Highways and shifted responsibility of building roads from townships to counties

1916 -  State Highway Commission developed a plan for a statewide network of “Hard Roads”

1924 – Completion of the statewide system of 4,800 miles of “Hard Roads”

1959 – Illinois Highway Code was adopted creating the County Highway System of roadways

1991 - State changed the position of Superintendent of Highways to County Engineer

2013 – Celebrating 100 Years with the most ambitious construction season in history 


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.


Model T, circa 1918

^Model T, circa 1918 


Birth of the County Highway System

The County Highway System of roadways began with the adoption of the Illinois Highway Code on July 1, 1959. This gave the Lake County Highway Department complete jurisdiction over any state-aid road which it constructed and maintained, selected highways which were improved and maintained as Federal Aid Secondary Highways, and any county highways which were constructed after July 1, 1959. During this period of expansion, Lake County constructed new sections of roads to connect to existing segments, completing roads such as Washington Street.

1912 election material

 ^1912 election material

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.

Old Lake County map

^Old Lake County map 

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 US 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 will undertake its most ambitious construction season in history.  Some projects include:

  • 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 US Route 45 to Illinois Route 83



Libertyville's First Traffic Signal, Milwaukee Ave and Cook St, 1918 

^Libertyville's first traffic signal,
Cook St and Milwaukee Ave, 1918

Cedar Lake Road, Round Lake, circa 1912

 ^Cedar Lake Rd, Round Lake, 1912



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