By Bob Uphues
Police in both Riverside and North Riverside began their grant-funded extra DUI and traffic enforcement patrols on June 26, but that funding could be cutoff midway through the enforcement period, which runs through July 4, if there's no state budget deal by the end of the week.
The Illinois Department of Transportation sent a letter to police departments and municipalities earlier this month explaining that if the General Assembly and governor can't agree on a budget or temporary spending bill by June 30, then any grant funding would cease until there was.
North Riverside and Riverside police were awarded tens of thousands of dollars this year for additional patrols to enforce seatbelt laws and take impaired drivers off the roads. Departments are reimbursed by IDOT after demonstrating participation in the program.
In the face of a potential interruption of grant funding, North Riverside police will end its July 4 holiday enforcement period on June 30.
Riverside, however, has announced it will continue additional patrols through the weekend, grant or no grant.
"I will not allow public safety to be jeopardized just because the Illinois legislature can't pass a budget," said Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel in a press release. "Drunk and drugged drivers will be out this holiday weekend and you can be assured that Riverside police will be out, too."
In addition to the traffic enforcement grants, IDOT will suspend work on scores of road projects on June 30, if there's no spending bill or budget deal.
That would mean an interruption to the work under way on Harlem Avenue between I-55 and 26th Street.
A state grant is also helping fund the replacement of the roof on the Riverside train depot, but Public Works Director Edward Bailey said that work will continue, even if grant funding is temporarily interrupted.
"The village intends to have the contractor keep working," Bailey said.