When Brookfield officials were working out its list of streets to be resurfaced with funds from a $22 million referendum passed in 2016, the eastern half of Broadway Avenue – but not the west half – was on the list.
But now they’re thinking bigger about Broadway.
On Nov. 27, trustees are expected to pass a resolution in support of an application to obtain a $2 million federal grant through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) for a comprehensive streetscape overhaul along the entire length of Broadway Avenue.
Officials say that $2 million in grant funding would be combined with bond funds from the street referendum, water and sewer funds and motor fuel tax revenues to pay for the $5.3 million project.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss an opportunity,” said Village Planner Emily Egan during a presentation seeking the board’s consensus on the grant application at their Nov. 13 committee of the whole meeting. “Since we’re already doing work in the area, let’s make sure we do it and that we do it comprehensively and as best as possible.”
The exact improvements are still unknown, but the plan concept unveiled on Nov. 13 showed that the village wants to redo the streetscape from building front to building front, a scope similar to Riverside’s 2016 makeover of East Burlington Street in that village’s downtown.
Egan said the concept plan calls for the sidewalks on both sides of Broadway Avenue to be widened by two to three feet, allowing more room for pedestrians, trees and streetscape furnishings like benches, planters and decorative street lights.
While a median would still separate eastbound and westbound traffic along Broadway Avenue, planners are calling for angle parking to be moved to the curb on either side of the street, eliminating the need for motorists to cross an active traffic lane to get to the sidewalk.
In addition to new permeable paver sidewalks, bump-outs at pedestrian crossings and a newly resurfaced roadway, the plan calls for a new water main and a new combined sewer line to be constructed as part of the project.
Egan said there would be opportunities for public input before final plans were developed. The grant application is due Dec. 1, and the ITEP program would announce recipients in the spring of 2018. If successful, Brookfield officials have targeted construction for 2021.
“This would truly create a different environment there from face to face,’ said Village Manager Keith Sbiral.
There was some concern aired by both trustees and some business owners who attended the Nov. 13 meeting, because concept plans offered by village staff as part of the presentation appeared to show contradictory parking formats. One option indicated parallel parking along Broadway, while another maintained the angle parking.
Egan and Sbiral assured business owners and trustees that the plan was to maintain the angle parking in order to maximize capacity for parking in the Eight Corners commercial district.
“The only thing that would decrease parking would be the creation of bump-outs,” Sbiral said.
Comments on the proposal by James Starha, owner of Broadway Jim’s Barbershop at 9216 Broadway Ave., emphasized the importance of maintaining as much parking as possible.
He requested that the parking remain along the median to give motorists a clearer view of business fronts, and he also suggested limiting parking to two hours to prevent people from parking there all day, taking up spaces meant for customers.
“I like the way it is now,” said Starha, who said in his 40 years in business he’s never seen anyone hit by a car while crossing from the parking spaces to the sidewalk.
Rich Gallik, an architect whose office, 3Si Inc., is located just off Broadway Avenue at 9043 Monroe Ave., said parking is a major issue for the commercial area.
“I’d ask that as the project matures, that you pay close attention to the parking as it relates to the small businesses in the area,” Gallik said, “and that we also pay attention to the congestion that occurs during the start and stop of school.”
Dennis Tischler, owner of Tischler Finer Foods at 9118 Broadway Ave., expressed support for the plan.
“I think it would be beneficial to the village if we move forward, if the federal government is going to give us that kind of grant,” Tischler said.
As far as the Memorial Circle itself, where the Eight Corners meet, Egan said the circumference and landscaping likely wouldn’t change, though staff are looking at improved signage and marking clear pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians.
“That needs further study,” Egan said.