Faced with the prospect of significant cost overruns after the first rounds of bids in August, the Riverside village board delayed the start of the East Burlington Street streetscape project and hoped for better pricing in November.

And while the village got only slightly better construction bids on Friday, a giant bundle of cash fell on the village for the project in late October, ensuring the project will now move ahead next spring.

On Oct. 28, the Central Conference of Mayors voted to award Riverside a $785,000 grant to cover the cost of resurfacing Burlington Street from Longcommon Road to Harlem Avenue. That was the portion of the project that had come in so far over budget in August.

“It really did kind of fall from the sky,” said Village President Ben Sells., who said the village’s engineering firm, Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd., knew about the grant opportunity and completed the paperwork for it.

Tammy Wierciak, planning coordinator for the West Central Municipal Conference, the parent organization for the Central Conference of Mayors, said the money came from the Surface Transportation Program (STP), which is federally funded.

Each year the Central Conference of Mayors is allotted about $3 million to award to qualifying projects. While the East Burlington Street project had already received about $420,000 in STP funds for the work, additional money became available when a project in another community fell through.

“It’s a big cost increase, but it is a decent-size project and it’s in a historic town,” Wierciak said. “The council felt it was reason enough to approve it.”

And with bids on Nov. 6 coming in only slight better than the first round, that additional money will be critical for allowing the street scape and resurfacing project to move ahead in March or April of 2016.

Sells said if the work begins as planned next spring, the project could be substantially complete by the beginning of July. 

In addition to the high bids in August and the lack of available funds at that time to move ahead, officials had decided to delay the work because they feared starting in the fall might have an impact on shopping in downtown Riverside during the holiday season.

“I think the timing is going to work as far as impact on businesses,” Sells said. “Depending on weather, the goal is to have this finished by July 4.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation opened five bids Friday. The lowest bidder was Schaumburg-based A. Lamp Concrete Contractors at $2.29 million. In August, the low bid was $2.45 million.

The project’s initial estimate was $1.6 million, but in August bids for the resurfacing portion of the project came in about $500,000 higher than expected.

IDOT will vet A. Lamp’s bid this week, said Village Manager Jessica Frances. The Riverside Village Board will vote to accept or reject the low bid at their Nov. 19 or Dec. 3 meeting.

According to a resolution passed by the village board on Nov. 5, Riverside’s portion of the project is expected to be about $630,000.

Following the August bid opening, Riverside officials did have another look at the streetscape plan and tweaked it again, Sells said.

Among the changes, according to Sells, was the removal of a large circular planter on the northern corner of Longcommon and Burlington. Two drinking fountains in the plan were also removed, along with decorative posts for lighting at the patio area on the east side of Landmark Kitchen Design, 39 E. Burlington St.

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