By Bob Uphues
A streetscape improvement project for the area in and around the Prairie Avenue Metra station in Brookfield that was partially completed in 2018 is set for round two next year.
The roughly $206,000 project will add four new high-visibility, brick paver crosswalks to the commercial district in addition to sections of brick paver sidewalk in the areas where the crosswalks are being laid.
In July, the West Suburban Mass Transit District agreed to award Brookfield a $73,000 grant to help pay for the work, which will be rolled into the bid package for the village's 2020 street improvement program.
However, the village will not use referendum funds to pay for the village's portion of the cost. It's likely that the village's general operating fund will lend the roughly $133,000 that is Brookfield's share to the Grand Boulevard tax increment financing district (TIF) fund.
In time, the Grand Boulevard TIF, which is expected to be approved by the village board in January, will repay the general fund as funds accrue due to increased assessed value of property within that TIF district over time.
Three of the new crosswalks will be built north of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks, one of them located across Grand Boulevard between Burger Antics and Creative Dental. The others north of the tracks will connect the east side of Prairie Avenue and the west side of Grand Boulevard with the point of the Grand/Prairie/Brookfield Avenue corner outside Brookfield Breakfast restaurant.
The fourth crosswalk will be located south of the BNSF tracks crossing Prairie Avenue on the south side of Burlington Avenue.
Like the crosswalks and sidewalk sections constructed in 2018, these will not be stamped concrete or painted asphalt but actual brick pavers, which will create some pedestrian and traffic disruption temporarily.
After receiving many complaints about the time it took to complete some of the improvements in 2018, Village Manager Timothy Wiberg said workers will use a quick-drying concrete next year to move things along and cut down on the time streets or corners might be closed to traffic.
The work will complete the project started in 2018, which included building four brick paver corner bump outs and crosswalks immediately north and south of the tracks, in addition to improvements to the Prairie Avenue train platform itself.