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100 Years - Lake County Division of Transportation

Prior to 1913, most of the roads in Illinois were dirt roads and inclement weather made them nearly impossible to navigate. Because of this, a movement arose to "get Illinois out of the mud." At that time, roads within the state of Illinois were the responsibility of the individual townships. Under the Tice Act of 1913, the responsibility for building our road system in Illinois shifted from the township to the county, under the direction of a County Superintendent of Highways.


 from the photo archives: Lake County Division of Transportation


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Bike Lake County

​Since the invention of the two wheeled riding machine in 1817, bicycling has become a favorite pastime for many. Bicycles have come in numerous shapes and sizes over the years and have changed the way people get around. This year, as the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) celebrates our 100-year Anniversary; we also celebrate the important role that bike paths play in the overall transportation system.

Today, biking in Lake County is more popular than ever. LCDOT is responsible for more than 55 miles of bike paths. LCDOT started incorporating bike paths into the overall transportation plan in the 1980’s with construction of segments of the Robert McClory bike path. This path, originally an old railroad right-of-way, is now a 25.5 mile regional bikeway connecting to Cook County. This bike path was later connected to the North Shore Bike Path in the 1990’s and these two paths provide the framework of LCDOT’s bicycle facilities system and provide a basis for future expansion.

As part of the County’s strategic goal to provide an alternative mode of transportation, the LCDOT has worked with the Lake County Forest Preserve, towns, villages, and other agencies to plan and connect bike paths. In the end, the goal is to provide paths for bikers to access all major amenities. This non-motorized travel option provides commuters with a different means of transportation that is not only good for the environment, but good for your health.

Now is the perfect time of year to get out on the bike paths, explore the fall colors and get a few last rides in before the winter! LCDOT is currently collecting stories and pictures of residents using bike paths for possible inclusion on a new Bike Lake County website. Send in your best pictures, new or old, to and tell us “Why do you Bike Lake County?”

Read more about LCDOT bike paths:

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Historical photo of children on a railroad Sign for Millennium Bike Path Cyclist

LCDOT Design Department: Engineering the Future of Transportation

The design department at LCDOT is responsible for preparing plans, specifications and documents for constructing all LCDOT highway improvements. Improvement projects include:

  • Maintenance (resurfacings and other preservation projects)
  • Expansion (provide capacity, add lane projects)
  • Modernization (reduce delays, increase safety and accommodate short term growth)
  • Bridges (inspect and rate bridge structure and surrounding area)

Improvement projects are designed in-house or by consultants. Consultant projects are coordinated and reviewed by the design department. Generally, design is done in three stages:

  1. The engineer or technician is assigned a project and prepares a scope of work that identifies permit needs and environmental concerns the design must consider.
  2. Engineers consider alternatives that may require additional detailed drainage, traffic or environmental studies.
  3. Detailed plans, specifications and bid documents are prepared and the project is advertised for public bidding.

In addition to the preparation of plans and specifications, the design department is responsible for all right of way acquisition and easements, developing standard details and specifications, establishing computer aided design (CAD) standards, and overseeing the bidding process. Detailed plans that were once drawn with quill pens on waxed linen are now generated with software and large format plotters.


 Design Department Photos


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 LCDOT 100th Anniversary Open House

Recently, the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) held an open house celebration to honor 100 years of transportation progress. Those in attendance had the opportunity to view antique equipment and see how transportation has changed in Lake County over the past 100 years. Watch LCTV video from the event (3 min).

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LCDOT Planning Division: Seeing the Big Picture

LCDOT Planning DepartmentWhile many people think of road construction or snow plowing when they think of the Lake County Division of Transportation, the overall transportation system includes so much more. Road, rail, public transit, and non-motorized (bike and pedestrian) modes of travel are all part of LCDOT’s regional view of how the transportation system in Lake County should operate. The Lake County Board identified transportation as a priority in their strategic plan. In order to reduce congestion and improve transportation in Lake County, LCDOT must not only maintain our county highways, but must work in partnership with other agencies at the local, state and federal level to plan future improvements.

The LCDOT Planning Department operates to support these regional partnerships and initiatives in the following ways:

  • Planning Liaison for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning - Adhere to Federal transportation planning requirements, including development of a Long Range Transportation Plan, Transportation Improvement Program, and Congestion Management System. Provide assistance as part of the comprehensive regional planning effort and the implementation of the regional plan GO TO 2040.
  • Provide Transit Coordination with Pace Suburban Bus and Metra – Collaborate with Pace Suburban Bus and Metra to analyze the County’s needs and create opportunities to improve the County’s transit systems.
  • Paratransit Coordinator - LCDOT staff manages the "Transit and Paratransit Services in Lake County" website from the Lake County Division of Transportation, applies for federal funds on behalf of LCCTSC (Lake County Coordinated Transportation Committee) and manages the LCCTSC Lake County Inter/Intra Paratransit Transportation Plan
  • Non-Motorized Facility Coordinator - Oversees and administers the Policy on Infrastructure Guidelines for non-motorized travel investment within the county highway system.
  • Staff Coordinator for the Lake County Council of Mayors - Provides staff assistance to the Lake County Council of Mayors and has done so since the early 1970's.
  • Provide Assistance to the Township Highway Commissioners – Assistance with administering Motor Fuel Tax funds and construction supervision.
  • Provide Phase I Project Coordination – Coordination with local municipalities, businesses, residents, and others that may be impacted by the future improvements.
  • Manager of Capital Programming - Manage the Capital Program Management System (CPMS) of the Lake County Division of Transportation for the tracking of the LCDOT’s 5-Year and Annual Program of Highway Projects.
  • Issue permits for work within County Highway rights-of-way - Review all third party proposed work within the county highway rights-of-way to determine impact on County-owned infrastructure.

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 Adopt a Highway: From Roadside to Recycling

It's Lake County Adopt a Highway's 20th Anniversary! The program was launched in February 1993, just six months after then-Governor Jim Edgar signed Illinois' Adopt a Highway Bill in September 1992. 37 groups signed up right away, and the program has grown steadily to the 232 groups currently enrolled. We extend our sincere appreciation to all the groups who have participated over the years, and want to give special recognition to the 7 groups who have been with the program since it first began: Allendale Association, Buffalo Grove Chamber of Commerce, Exchange Club of Grayslake, Gurnee Rotary Club, Lake Bluff Open Lands Association, Lake County Court Services, and Paul's Landscaping. Your commitment to this program and to keeping Lake County beautiful are appreciated!

Want to learn more? Visit our Adopt a Highway webpage or send an email to:


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Snow Business

Lake County Division of Transportation Snow Removal Operations
When winter weather strikes, the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) has more than just plows and salt to clear the roads. There is an entire "Snow Command" behind the scenes utilizing technology and years of research to make the operation as efficient and safe as possible. LCDOT plows roughly 800 lane miles of road, split into 25 routes. Lake County's 25 routes only cover county roads (identified by the 5-sided blue and gold route markers). State routes are plowed by the Illinois Department of Transportation, and municipal and township roads are handled by the individual cities or townships. Learn more by watching this video.

Lake County Uses Alternative to Salt for Icy Roadways
In recent years, Lake County has seen an increase in chloride levels in streams, lakes, and ponds due to road salt run-off.  Salt isn’t biodegradable so it stays in our environment and can be toxic to aquatic life. In this video, learn how Lake County is using environmentally friendly liquid alternatives.

Check Local Road Conditions with Lake County PASSAGE
Whether it's snowing, or before you start your commute, check Lake County PASSAGE for live, local traffic information. You can view a map of road conditions and events, including crashes, stalls, debris, and other roadway incidents, and see camera images of major intersections across Lake County. You can also sign up for customized email alerts, or listen to 1620 AM radio. PASSAGE: 847.377.7000

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History - Lake County's Roads

Video: The History of Transportation in Lake CountyHistory of Lake County Roads
This year the Lake County Division of Transportation is celebrating 100 years of service to Lake County. A transportation system that started as dirt roads is now an impressive network of safe and efficient roadways, intersections, roundabouts and bike paths. Watch a video on the history of transportation in Lake County.

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

Model T, circa 1918Getting 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.

1912 election material  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.

Old Lake County mapComing 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.

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

Cedar Lake Road, Round Lake, circa 1912LCDOT 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

Visit the 2013 Construction Projects webpage.

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