Riverside has applied for a grant to help fund construction of the third phase of streetscape improvements in the downtown. This phase would include East Quincy Street and the first block of Riverside Road.

The village of Riverside next year hopes to finally land a grant through the Illinois 

Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) so it can launch a third phase of streetscape improvements to its downtown that started in 2016.

Village trustees on Nov. 5 passed a resolution authorizing staff to submit an application seeking about $642,000 in funding from ITEP, which would cover 80 percent of engineering and construction costs for the project, which would improve 700 feet of streetscape along both sides of East Quincy Street east of Riverside Road and 190 feet along the east side of Riverside Road south of East Quincy Street.

The improvements include the installation of both permeable and impermeable brick paver sidewalks along with bump outs to shorten crosswalks, protect parking and create room for raised planters, new trees and high-visibility crosswalks.

Completing the project is expected to cost about $803,000. With an ITEP grant in hand, village would expect its share of the cost to be about $161,000. Riverside applied for a similar grant in 2018, but was denied.

Should Riverside win the full amount, final design engineering would be completed in 2021 with construction likely to begin in spring 2022.

Sonya Abt, the village’s community development director, said the Riverside project may have a better shot at a grant this year since the preliminary engineering has already been completed.

If the village doesn’t get the full amount, it’s possible the state could award an amount that would pay for 80 percent of the final design engineering, though that would delay construction by at least a couple of years.

“This project is not something we have the capital reserves to do without grant funding,” Abt said.

If the state denies Riverside’s grant application this year, the next opportunity to apply for an ITEP grant is in 2022.

This year, ITEP is making $105.6 million available to fund “biking and walking paths, trails, streetscape beautification work and other improvements designed to encourage safe travel across the various modes of transportation at the local level,” according to the program’s website.

The program will award individual grants of up to $2 million to pay for 80 percent of a project’s cost, with the local municipality contributing 20 percent.

The village of Riverside has used grants to fund the lion’s share of the first two phases of its downtown streetscape improvement plan. ITEP and federal Surface Transportation Program funds were used in 2016 to complete the most ambitious phase of the work, which focused on Longcommon Road and East Burlington Street.

The seven-month long construction effort set the stage for a similar but smaller project in 2019 that made over the streetscape and improved pedestrian safety south of the tracks along Riverside Road to East Quincy Street and west along Bloomingbank Road in front of the downtown train station.

That second phase of work was funded at 70 percent by a federal Surface Transportation Program grant along with motor fuel tax funds.

Once the East Quincy Street/Riverside Road streetscape is completed, the only remaining piece of the downtown puzzle would be the streetscape in and around Forest Avenue/East Avenue.

The village Capital Improvement Plan has that work budgeted for 2025. That project, budgeted at $835,000, would also require grant funding to move forward.