A proposed makeover of the streetscape of East Burlington Street in downtown Riverside and resurfacing of the roadway from Harlem Avenue to Longcommon Road is on track to be completed later this year after the village board voted unanimously on Thursday to adopt a resolution supporting the improvements.

The vote was an anticlimactic end to what in the past couple of months has been somewhat of a tempestuous issue and signals that the village is on track to submit plans to the Illinois Department of Transportation in time for their June bid period. Work could begin in early to mid-August.

Sonya Abt, the village’s community development director who has been the point person for the project, submitted “pre-final” plans Friday to IDOT to qualify for the June bid period. Final construction plans will be submitted by the end of April.

Both Abt and Village Manager Jessica Frances met on Jan. 13 with officials from IDOT and the Federal Highway Administration to present information about the village’s efforts to solicit public input on the project.

State and federal officials called the meeting in the wake of a flurry of phone calls and emails from a handful of Riverside residents upset with the village’s process and with the design itself.

“We went through the various milestones and they said they felt we fulfilled the requirements for public input,” Frances said. “I was pleased because we obviously wanted to see the project move forward.”  

At the meeting, federal highway officials suggested the village board pass a resolution in support of the plan to round out the public process.

On Thursday, the village posted a full site plan of the proposed improvements for the downtown streetscape, giving the most detailed overview yet of where elements such as crosswalks, planters, lighted bollards, trees, bike racks, benches and other street furniture will be located.

That site plan was the one submitted to IDOT on Friday, Abt said.

Village President Ben Sells said the details of the plan still may be tweaked prior to the April 24 final plan approval date.

“It’ll be fine-tuned between now and March,” Sells said, pointing to such elements as plant selection and whether to include the circular corner planter pictured on the north corner of Burlington and Longcommon.

In the short term, Sells said, village officials will be meeting with members of the East Burlington Street business community in either late January or early February to talk about the staging of the work, which is expected to last more than three months, until the end of November.

“We want to make sure we coordinate that as much as possible,” Sells said. “It’s going to be disruptive, but there’s no way to do something like this without that.”

The total cost for the streetscape and street resurfacing project is estimated to be $1,686,000. The village has received two federal grants, both administered by the state of Illinois, which will pay for the majority of that expense.

Riverside in 2012 received a $421,000 Surface Transportation Grant for the resurfacing of East Burlington Street. In 2014, the village received a $754,660 grant from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program for the streetscape improvements.

The village will cover the difference, about $510,000.

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