By Bob Uphues
Despite the miserable cold of late, Riverside residents can expect the spring construction season to commence in the next week or so at the main commuter parking lot just west of the downtown train station.
Put off last fall, work will soon start on the construction of a permeable paver parking lot, which is being funded in part by a grant from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
Riverside's portion of the cost will also be lower than expected after bids for the work came in significantly below the estimated $900,000 budget. MWRD awarded the job to Chicagoland Paving Contractors Inc., which submitted the low bid of $739,900.
MWRD has promised $560,000 toward the work to replace the existing asphalt with permeable pavers that will help divert storm water runoff from the village's sewer system.
Officials estimate that the lot's drainage system should be able to detain about 224,000 gallons of water, slowly releasing it into the ground instead of the water being directed to local sewers.
Immediately east of the 37,000-square-foot parking lot will be a roughly 6,600-square-foot rain garden planted with native species that will also help contain storm water runoff.
The paving project includes the main portion of the commuter parking lot. Metered parking spaces that extend west behind Riverside Swim Club will remain paved with asphalt.
Both the main lot and the extension, however, will be offline during construction, said Public Works Director Edward Bailey. The tentative completion date is May 17, but that could be affected by weather.
During construction, the 75 commuter lot permit holders will be using the parking lot at the Riverside Swim Club, next door to the west. While the club is not charging the village for use of the lot, the village has agreed to restripe and number the parking spaces there, said Riverside Finance Director Karin Johns.
As for the metered spaces in the commuter lot extension, Johns said the village will provide 42 temporary metered spots on Bloomingbank, Burling, and Riverside roads.
"I am currently developing a map to outline this, which will be distributed via the website, e-flash and being placed on cars in the metered spots on the days leading up to construction," Johns said in an email.
Metra pedestrian access
Another major project in the train station area will also be getting started this spring and could overlap somewhat with the commuter parking lot project.
Also a holdover from last year, the pedestrian safety improvements slated for Bloomingbank and Riverside roads near Metra's south train station platform will begin "as soon as possible," said Riverside Community Development Director Sonya Abt.
The $669,000 project is being funded in part by a federal Surface Transportation Program grant of $468,355. The village's share of about $200,000 will be paid using its motor fuel tax revenues.
Since the federal grant funds are being administered through the Illinois Department of Transportation, that agency was in charge of the bid process. The company awarded the contract for the work to Coal City-based D Construction Inc.
Abt did not have a firm start date for the project as of last week, saying she was waiting on IDOT to complete paperwork related to the job.
"We want to get started as soon as possible, because we want to be substantially complete by the Fourth of July," Abt said.
Work will include extending the curb line along the west side of Riverside Road from the tracks farther south to shorten the crosswalk and prevent cars from stopping on the tracks to wait for pedestrians to clear the existing long crosswalk.
Extending the curbing will also create a brick paver plaza area east of the train station, which will sport raised planting beds. The plaza will taper to the west into a raised sidewalk along the north side of Bloomingbank Road in front of the train station, separating vehicles from pedestrians near the train station entrance.
The streetscape on the east side of Riverside Road from the tracks to East Quincy Street will be redone to match the streetscape north of the tracks on Longcommon Road.
Pedestrian access to the train platform should be uninterrupted during construction, said Abt, but westbound vehicular traffic on Bloomingbank Road at some point is likely to be shifted to Burling Road for a time.
"The idea is to keep [Bloomingbank Road] open as much as possible," Abt said.