By Bob Uphues
When Broadway Avenue undergoes its resurfacing/reconstruction project this summer, the center median along two-block business strip is also in line to get new decorative street lights, replacing the existing concrete poles that may very well date back to the late 1950s.
Village Engineer Derek Treichel got the go-ahead from trustees on Jan. 28 to include streetlight installation as an alternate package in the bid specifications for the road improvement project. The village is slated to seek formal bids for the work in late February.
When Treichel first raised the subject of replacing the streetlights mid-January, trustees were lukewarm on the idea due to the cost. Replacing the 18 concrete poles that line the median with decorative black streetlights will come at a cost of $380,600.
In addition to the poles, which would have mast arms that would illuminate both the north and south sides of Broadway Avenue, the work would include new wiring, both inside each poles and inside conduit that would run from pole to pole in the median.
What convinced trustees that replacing the poles made sense was both the condition of the existing poles and the cost to repair them.
Treichel told trustees that 10 of the 18 poles had cracked bracket plates, which hold the mast arms to the pole. Some of those bracket plates were reinforced about five years ago when the village installed new LED lights to the bracket arms. Those repairs were meant to be temporary, Treichel said.
One of the poles has no bracket arms (and, as a result, no lights) at all because it wasn't possible to make repairs to the bracket plates. According to Treichel, the bracket plates are in good condition on seven of the poles.
Treichel said the village could opt to replace the bracket arms and lights on the existing poles. That work would also include new wiring inside each pole, but would leave in place the existing wiring under the median, which is not inside a conduit and is not up to code.
The cost for that option was estimated at $133,000, Treichel said.
It's not clear exactly how old the existing concrete poles are, but Treichel estimated that they were at least 49 years old. Village President Kit Ketchmark said that when work on Broadway Avenue was being done in the mid-1980s, there was talk then about replacing the poles.
The poles may, in fact, date back to 1958 when the area underwent a large scale improvement project, which included the installation of what's now known as the Veterans Memorial Circle. Prior to 1958, there was no circle, and the 16-way intersection was a nightmare for vehicles to traverse.
The book "Brookfield, Illinois: A History" published in 1993 in conjunction with the village's centennial celebration, states that on Dec. 16, 1958 the village held a celebration to christen the new circle.
During the ceremony, "Mary Ann Mobley, Miss America of 1958, turned the switch to illuminate the new mercury vapor lights installed in the Broadway-Circle district."
In addition to new streetlights, trustees also OK'd seeking bids to install three high-visibility, brick paver mid-block crosswalks across Broadway Avenue. There are three such crosswalks presently, delineated by white thermoplastic markings – two east of the circle and one west of it. Treichel estimated that the crosswalks would cost $50,000.
The village would pay for the streetlight improvements by splitting the cost between the Eight Corners Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, which can use those funds for infrastructure improvements, and using money from bond proceeds that are funding residential street improvements throughout the village.
Broadway Avenue is part of the village's 2019 street improvement program. Other streets in this year's program are located north of 31st Street.