By Bob Uphues
Riverside has directed its engineering firm to begin initial engineering for a makeover of the streetscape along the downtown commercial stretch of East Quincy Street and the east side of Riverside Road south from East Quincy Street and then around the corner to the east for about 50 feet.
In July, the village board approved spending about $19,000 to have Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. complete the work, but it's unclear when actual construction will take place, since the village is still looking for grant funding for the project.
Last year, the Illinois Department of Transportation rejected the village's application for an Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) grant to fund the roughly $600,000 construction project.
In 2019, the village also struck out in its bid to obtain $50,000 in grant funding for design engineering through the Invest in Cook program administered by Cook County. Riverside will have the opportunity to apply for another ITEP grant this fall; awardees will be notified next spring.
"We're still hoping to submit to ITEP for design and construction," said Sonya Abt, the village's community development director. "If we don't get that, we'll probably have to defer it for another year."
The village will not be able to submit another application for an ITEP grant until 2021 if Riverside doesn't receive a grant in this go-round.
If the village is successful in obtaining ITEP grant funding next spring, it's likely that the engineering firm would be able to complete final design in 2020, with construction taking place in 2021.
The East Quincy Street and Riverside Road streetscape improvement project is the last phase of a plan to make over the entire streetscape in downtown Riverside. The village began the campaign to replace the concrete sidewalks with brick pavers, raised stone planters, new street furniture and high-visibility crosswalks.
East Burlington Street was the first part of the downtown to be improved in 2016. The second phase of the streetscape makeover is just wrapping up along Riverside Road north of East Quincy Street and Bloomingbank Road in front of the train station. Work remaining on that phase includes laying the top layer of asphalt on the roadway, installation of the high-visibility crosswalks and lighted bollards and pavement striping.
The final phase of improvements calls for brick pavers to replace the concrete sidewalks along the north and south sides of East Quincy Street from Riverside Road to the end of the downtown commercial strip.
Along the east side of Riverside Road, new bump-outs would provide some protection for the diagonal parking in front of First American Bank. The east side of the street would also include a permeable brick paver sidewalk and three new trees, with raised planting beds on the southeast corner of Riverside Road and East Quincy Street.
The village also plans to install a new crosswalk across Riverside Road where a new stop sign was installed last year at Burling Road as a result of a village-wide traffic safety study.