The village of Brookfield will widen Grant Avenue a total of seven feet – 3.5 feet on each side – between Sunnyside and Prairie avenues, allowing for parking on both sides of the street. This plan replaces a proposal for two 11-foot through lanes of traffic in order to keep vehicle speeds in check.

Trustees gave the go-ahead Feb. 28 to put the Grant Avenue widening/resurfacing project out to bid as part of the village’s 2022 street improvement program, which includes about one mile of residential side streets in the village.

Brookfield expects to put the road improvement project out to bid in mid-March with construction expected to begin in early May, according to Village Engineer Derek Treichel.

The Grant Avenue segment of the 2022 street improvement program is a bit more complicated that the resurfacing projects elsewhere in town because of its location on the edge of the village’s downtown and a desire by officials to try to plan for future development there.

Earlier this year, Village Manager Timothy Wiberg recommended that trustees approve widening Grant Avenue between Sunnyside and Forest avenues by 14 feet in order to provide 7-foot parking lanes on either side of the street and allow for two 11-foot wide through lanes for traffic.

Such a plan would have necessitated the removal of 17 trees, and although they would have been replaced, trustees were not thrilled with the loss of so many trees and felt the recommended improvement would be out of character with the essentially residential nature of Grant Avenue.

One neighborhood resident, Brian Oberhauser, who is also a former village trustee, implored elected officials to leave the street as it was, calling the proposal “a solution in search of a problem.” 

He also was not in favor of the village allowing parking along the north side of Grant Avenue. Parking is prohibited right now along the entire length of Grant Avenue’s north side between Sunnyside and Forest avenues.

But trustees ended up wanting to expand parking on Grant Avenue because they also wanted to improve safety at the intersection of Grant and Prairie avenues. Officials want to push parking on Prairie Avenue further from the intersection to improve sight lines for north-south traffic.

While there isn’t a history of many dangerous crashes there, it can be difficult for vehicles stopped at the intersection on Grant Avenue to get a good view of oncoming traffic on Prairie, which has no stop signs.

There were two crashes there between 2016 and 2020, and in July 2021 a motorcyclist traveling northbound on Prairie was seriously injured when he was struck by an SUV heading east on Grant Avenue.

“It reflects the number of accidents, but it doesn’t reflect near misses,” Treichel said. “We know there’s a bit of an issue … and it’s largely due to the density of the parking.”

Treichel recommended pushing parking on Prairie Avenue a total of 60 feet away from the intersection, which would result in the loss overall of 10 parking spaces. The village will also perform a speed study to see if it might be worth asking the Illinois Department of Transportation to allow the village to reduce the speed limit on Prairie Avenue from 30 mph to 25 mph.

The loss of the parking spaces on Prairie Avenue convinced trustees of the necessity to allow parking on the north side of Grant Avenue west of Prairie Avenue. In order to create two protected 7-foot parking lanes, the street will be widened by 3.5 feet on each side.

That will leave a 15-foot shared through lane for traffic, which will require cars on Grant Avenue to slow down in order to pass one another and not turn the street into a de facto collector route.

Trustees also agreed to leave Grant Avenue as-is east of Prairie Avenue, with parking only on the south side and a 15-foot share through lane.