Almost three years ago, Vulcan Materials — the owner of a quarry adjacent to Joliet Road south of Brookfield — agreed to pay the Illinois Department of Transportation $40 million as part of a settlement over a damaged section of roadway that the state shut down in 1998 and remains closed today.

In 2001, IDOT sued Vulcan which, while not admitting any wrongdoing, agreed in May 2010 to pay the agency $40 million so that IDOT could study and complete road improvements in the area to relieve traffic congestion caused by the closure of Joliet Road.

Part of that effort begins in earnest on Jan. 31 from 4 to 7 p.m., when IDOT hosts a public meeting about possible improvements to the intersection of 47th Street and Eberly/East Avenue at LaGrange Village Hall, 53 S. LaGrange Road.

Brookfield, along with LaGrange and McCook, share the intersection. It’s a busy crossing controlled only by stop signs and complicated by an arcing section of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad that cuts across 47th Street west of the intersection and 47th Street south of it.

IDOT has pledged $2.5 million of the Vulcan settlement to pay for phase one of a three-phase project to improve that intersection and alleviate the backups that occur during rush hours and whenever trains hold up traffic.

The agency has hired V3 Companies, a Woodridge-based engineering firm as its lead consultant for phase one, which includes preliminary engineering and an environmental study of the site.

Heidi Voirol, V3’s project manager, said the meeting on Jan. 31 will be an open house of sorts, with a PowerPoint presentation running on a continuous loop, some exhibits and representatives from both V3 and IDOT on hand to answer questions.

IDOT’s project manager for the effort, Ojas Patel, will be present and will solicit people to join a public advisory group being formed to give input.

“At this point there are no alternatives drafted up,” said Patel. “The first meeting will be to introduce the project and tell how the phase one study works, the schedules, and explain the public involvement process.

“The purpose is to solicit input and concerns from local residents and users.”

Patel said the schedule right now calls for phase one to wrap up in mid-2014. The final two phases, which would include such issues as land acquisition and construction, have not been funded at this time.

“Currently [phase one] is the only phase funded,” said Patel.

This story has been changed to clarify that the $40 million settlement was the result of a mutual agreement between Vulcan Materials and the state of Illinois, and to to correct the number of quarries Vulcan operates in that area.