Riverside continues to seek grant funding to complete the makeover of the downtown streetscape on East Quincy Street and Riverside Road. Now, the makeover could include the downtown portion of East Avenue if state funding for a project that combines all three streets is secured.

The village unsuccessfully applied for a grant from the Illinois Traffic Safety Enhancement Program to cover the costs of revamping East Quincy Street and Riverside Road.

Last week, the village board agreed to include the portion of East Avenue that intersects with Forest Avenue in the project. In 2024, Riverside plans to apply for a grant from this project, this time with East Avenue included.

Bundling the streets could bring economic benefits to the village, Assistant Village Manager Ashley Monroe told trustees.

“It may enhance our application for the Quincy project,” she said, adding that an increased project scope could increase the likeliness of receiving a grant.

The village’s plans for East Avenue include streetscape improvements that match the look and streetscape of Burlington Street – with its brick paver sidewalk, stone planters and street furniture. The pedestrian walkway could also be expanded, allowing extra space for pedestrians and outdoor dining, pending engineering studies. The village estimates construction costs at $800,000.

These improvements would be added to existing plans for East Quincy Street and Riverside Road in the downtown business district, first proposed in 2018. Plans for these streets also include streetscapes that match East Burlington Street from the Metra Station to Township Hall and Metal Mites. The project, estimated to cost around $1 million, would bring high-visibility crosswalks, more trees, raised planters and decorative pavers.  A Phase 1 engineering study, needed for the grant application, is already complete for this project, Monroe said.

Both projects were included in the village’s preliminary budget for 2024. Securing a state grant next year could bring these plans closer to fruition. If awarded a grant in the 2024 cycle, construction would begin in 2026.

To include East Avenue in the grant application, Phase 1 engineering must first be completed. This is a cost the village would have to cover, estimated at $56,000.

“There’s an application period in August of next year and we believe it’s possible to complete engineering-Phase I engineering that is required for the East Avenue section.

The board unanimously agreed to include East Avenue in the project to potentially be funded by the grant. With their approval, the village will prepare an agreement with the village’s engineering firm Burke LLC to complete Phase I engineering. It will be reviewed and approved in an upcoming board meeting.

Later this fall, the village will also host a public open house about the project and complete other requirements to apply for the grants next year.