Brookfield could get its first dedicated bike lanes later this year after staff work out details of how and exactly where to stripe the pavement along Washington Avenue, between Golf Road and Kemman Avenue.

The decision to move ahead with either bike lanes or markings for shared lanes on Washington Avenue came at a meeting of the intra-departmental Complete Streets Committee, which was formed in the wake of the village board adopting a “complete streets” policy in 2016.

That policy was created to encourage active transportation, such as biking and walking, and formally mandated staff to take into account modes of transportation other than vehicles as it planned for the future.

“The complete streets policy is a crucial first step toward smarter multi-modal transportation planning,” said Village Manager Keith Sbiral at the time the policy was adopted.

In the wake of the complete streets policy, Brookfield in 2017 completed an Active Transportation Plan, funded through a county grant and led by the Active Transportation Alliance, which recommended a number of initiatives to improve transportation in the village, including the creation of designated bike lanes, bike and pedestrian routes, improving sidewalks and intersections to make them safer, upgrading signage and more.

The designation of a “bike boulevard” last year on Arden Avenue between Washington and Brookfield avenues was one of the first active transportation recommendations the village implemented.

The Active Transportation Plan called out Washington Avenue as a candidate for designated bike lanes, given the street’s direct connection to two schools and the Eight Corners business district.

“It’s an important safety step,” said Nicholas Greifer, the village of Brookfield’s director of community and economic development and a member of the Complete Streets Committee. “People use Washington Avenue all the time [as a bike route], so this is really providing an important asset that they don’t have currently.” 

The village board set aside funds for such a project within the Department of Public Works’ street maintenance budget, but Public Works Director Amy Wagner said the village may apply for a grant from the Active Transportation Alliance to help fund the bike lane project. Waiting on grant funding could push the project later in the year.

“We may have to hold off until fall to see if it’s eligible for [grant] funding the project,” Wagner said.

Before anything gets greenlighted, officials will need to determine what’s feasible. Wagner said that the village’s engineer likely will have to look at street width and determine if the street can support designated bike lanes or shared lanes. The village may need to consult the Illinois Department of Transportation on rules.

Once a study is complete, the findings would be taken to the village board for discussion.

While the Active Transportation Plan also calls for reconfiguring traffic patterns at the Memorial Circle using pavement markings, the Washington Avenue bike lane initiative would not include those changes.

How the traffic circle at Eight Corners will be integrated into the bike lane plan isn’t clear at this time.

“That’s sort of the million-dollar question,” Greifer said. “It’ll require its own analysis. The Active Transportation Plan’s ideas for improving the circle go well beyond what we’re looking at here.”

Brookfield wins grant for 31st Street corridor study

Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski (D-16th) announced on June 29 that the village of Brookfield had been awarded $85,000 in grant funding through the Invest in Cook program for transportation projects.

The money has been earmarked for the 31st Street Corridor Impact Study, which would look at improving vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian safety along the busy thoroughfare, including the feasibility of a shared-use path along 31st Street east from Prairie Avenue to Golfview Avenue to directly connect with the Salt Creek Trail, bike lanes west of Prairie Avenue and a left-turn lane at Maple Avenue.

However, the total cost of the impact study is projected to be $170,000, and Brookfield President Kit Ketchmark says the village doesn't have, and shouldn't have to shoulder, another $85,000 to get the study off the ground.

"The bike trail is a regional project," Ketchmark said. "We're happy to be part of it, but if we're being asked for half of the cost to see if it would even work, it's not making sense on our part."

The 31st Street Corridor Impact Study doesn't include actually implementing any aspects of the plan. The construction of a bike path connecting to the Salt Creek Trail is expected to cost about $750,000, said Ketchmark, an amount far beyond the capacity of Brookfield to fund.

"It's not a village of Brookfield project," Ketchmark said. "Part of it is in Brookfield, but part is on county land. I don't know that it's fair for Brookfield to cover half the cost."

­— Bob Uphues