UPDATED: Thursday, Sept. 18 at 3:07 p.m.
Riverside police announced Thursday that the north sidealk of Forest Avenue and the north crosswalk across First Avenue between Forest Avenue and Ridgewood Road will be closed sometime after 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 18.
The Illinois Department of Transportation notified Riverside officials Thursday that the north side of Forest Avenue would be off limits due to construction when work begins next week. As a result, police are moving to close the north side on Friday.
Beginnign Friday afternoon students will resume the former pattern of crossing Ridgewood Road midblock to the south side of the street and then crossing First Avenue via the south crosswalk.
“Public works will shut [the north sidewalk and crosswalk] down,” said Riverside Police Lt. William Gutschick. “We don’t want to be scrambling Monday morning. This way, come Monday, the kids are already set.”
Pedestrian crossing and traffic patterns will change throughout the construction period, which is expected to last into spring 2015. Police say they will try to give the public as much notice as possible about changes.
Road construction on First Avenue at the intersection of Forest Avenue/Ridgewood Road in Riverside that wasn’t expected to begin until early October will kick into gear next week.
On Wednesday, officials from Alliance Construction, the general contractor chosen for the project by the Illinois Department of Transportation, met with Riverside leaders to outline the early phases of the work, which will begin Monday, Sept. 22.
On Monday, when electrical work for new traffic signals begins, there won’t be any changes to traffic patterns on First Avenue. However, lane closures may begin as early as Tuesday, Sept. 23 when crews begin to carve out a new right-turn only lane on southbound First Avenue at Ridgewood Road.
Police chief Thomas Weitzel said traffic will be reduced to two lanes often during the project, but he was unable to predict which lanes would be affected on any given day. Weitzel also said all four lanes of traffic on First Avenue should be open each day by 3 p.m.
As of Monday, the north crosswalk across First Avenue is expected to be open to pedestrians. However, that will likely change as construction progresses. Riverside officials expect just 48 to 72 hours’ notice of any changes to traffic patterns, so pedestrians and motorist should be aware that delays and changes may occur with little notice.
“It’s a very fluid situation, because a lot depends on weather and a lot depends on subcontractors,” said Weitzel.
Police will continue to station two crossing guards at the intersection to help students cross during the morning and afternoon hours. Riverside’s community service officer will also be stationed “on a continuous basis” in his squad car in the area at arrival and dismissal times at RBHS during the construction, said Weitzel.
Police have notified Riverside-Brookfield High School, Riverside District 96 schools and area police departments of the situation.
Construction is expected to continue on through the winter and into the spring of 2015. When it’s finished, there will be new right-turn lanes on southbound First Avenue at Ridgewood Road and on westbound Forest Avenue at First Avenue.
The intersection will be outfitted with new countdown traffic signals, and a bike/walking path will be constructed along the west side of First Avenue from Parkview Road to 31st Street.