Brookfield trustees on Nov. 12 voted unanimously to join forces with other suburban communities to develop a regional transportation infrastructure plan to identify and fold in key local street improvement projects that could qualify for federal funding.

The initiative is being spearheaded by the village of Western Springs, with the West Central Municipal Conference (WCMC) lining up the intergovernmental support of that organization’s 15 member municipalities.

The WCMC obtained an $80,000 grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation to prepare the regional transportation infrastructure plan, the total cost of which is expected to be $100,000. Those funds will be used to hire a consulting engineer.

If all 15 municipalities end up joining forces –and it’s likely they will – the cost to join will be $2,300.

“I view this as for a relatively small investment, we’re going to participate in a regional effort,” said Brookfield Village Manager Timothy Wiberg. “We’ll hire an engineer, and we’ll identify projects we think will have regional significance.”

Riverside Village Manager Jessica Frances confirmed that the board of trustees in that village will consider the agreement to join Brookfield and 13 other communities in the initiative in December.

Frances praised the initiative’s intergovernmental collaboration component and the understanding it will give local officials about how their road improvement projects fit into a larger regional scheme.

“From that standpoint it’s just great,” Frances said.

The Federal Highway Administration each year awards millions of dollars in Surface Transportation Program funding to Illinois, grants that are doled out to local municipalities to help pay for resurfacing major arterial streets and local collector routes.

According to a memo to the Brookfield Village Board from the village manager’s office, all of the key road projects that qualify for federal grant funding will be rolled into the regional master plan.

The hope is that such a plan will increase the chances for grant funding, since the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) will be charged with picking which project will get funded.

The Surface Transportation Program has been used successfully in the past by Brookfield to help pay resurfacing costs for streets such as Maple and Prairie avenues and Grand Boulevard and in Riverside to repave East Burlington, East Quincy Street and Longcommon Road, among others.

Wiberg said that the village of Brookfield can still pursue grant funding for important local projects on their own. Such a partnership might help, however, land funding for street projects that run through multiple jurisdictions, like 31st Street.

“Nothing stops us on our own applying for grants just on Brookfield’s behalf,” Wiberg said. “It’s just a smart way to partner with sister communities around us.

“There’s no downside to this.”