Although saying the city hall meeting room was packed for the public meeting concerning a grant proposal for ITEP (Illinois Transportation Enrichment Project) funding held Monday evening, Oct. 19, would be misleading, the room was full as the listeners followed distancing requirements caused by the pandemic.
Hurst-Rosche engineer Jeremy Connor ran the meeting, specifically asking for suggestions from the sixteen citizens present. The request will be submitted to IDOT on Nov. 2; as Connor explained, it’s the second time for submission as the grant is offered in a two year cycle.
Whether or not the proposal is viewed favorably this time should be known by the spring of 2021.
When asked what he felt kept it from acceptance during the last cycle, Connor said he thought the state, which administers the federal grant, wanted the city to have more money available, to be assured that the project could go forward.
He thinks that hurdle has been cleared this time. He thinks the increase in gas taxes since 2018 has put the state in a better position to help with projects like this one.
City councilman Don Downs (the only other city official present was planner Jonathan Weyer) said the city would use the time the street surfaces were open to do long overdue water and sewer main work, but that’s not part of the grant, which is limited to work on the streets, sidewalks, and entrances to buildings.
The area covered would be from the curve north of the Presbyterian Church on Rts. 16/127 north on South Main Street to and around Courthouse Square and all of South Main’s feeder streets (legs). The purpose is to improve accessibility and enhance appearance.
Parking stalls would be widened by two feet each, decreasing the dangers for those backing out into the street. Crosswalks for pedestrians would be shorter, in effect lessening the time it takes to cross the street. Stop signs will be closer to South Main, giving greater visibility to drivers on the side streets who want to enter main street traffic.
Plans will call for building entrances to be at sidewalk level, and entrances will be ADA compliant, with grant money and not building owners paying for the work. Connor said the work on the streets and buildings would be done with as little interruption to business interests as possible.
Environmental studies, such as effect on noise level and air pollution, done for the first grant attempt still are good for this one and will help the city’s chances. Having them complete gives the city points in the grant evaluation. So will letters of support submitted by local government officials.
Grant request preparations is Phase I. Phase II will be planning the details of the project, and Phase III would be actual construction. All grant money has to be spent within four years.
Suggestions for the project can be submitted to Connor at Hurst-Rosche.