River Forest snares $1.3 million for Madison Street improvements
This illustration from the 2010 River Forest Corridors Plan shows new benches and planters that might be among teh potential improvements to be made on Madison Street with a new $1.3 million state grant.
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:11AM
River Forest and Forest Park will share $1.3 million in grant money from the state of Illinois to pay for improvements to Madison Street between Desplaines Avenue and Park Avenue.
The $1,340,560 Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant will help pay for planned streetscape improvements on both sides of Madison Street.
Forest Park, which first applied for an ITEP grant in 2008, will serve as the lead agency. Both Forest Park and River Forest will contribute about $240,000 each to the $1.8 million project.
The River Forest streetscape improvements were one of 54 such projects approved Wednesday. In all, the state received 328 applications covering $327 million in proposed improvements.
Village Administrator Eric Palm said he and other officials were excited at the news.
“I think it’s going to help beautify the community and helpfully help with (future) economic development,” he said. “You look at what Forest Park has down with Madison (east of Desplaines Avenue) with streetscape improvements. They have a vibrant economic district.”
Palm said village officials will sit down with their counterparts in Forest Park soon to discuss next steps in the process.
“We’ll sit down with them and hammer those details out,” Palm said. He expressed thanks to both elected officials and village staff in Forest Park “for being the lead agency and doing all the heavy lifting with this grant.”
Forest Park Village Administrator Tim Gillian, who is overseeing the grant process, was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
The ITEP program is designed to promote and develop alternative transportation options, including bike and pedestrian travel, along with streetscape beautification. The federal funds are awarded competitively, and any local or state government with taxing authority is eligible to apply. Local matching funds are required, and work must begin on the projects within three years.
Palm said the River Forest village board has allocated the required funds in the fiscal year 2014 budget, which starts May 1.
“If we can get the ball moving sooner rather than later, we’ll be ready,” he said.
See the Feb. 7 issue of Forest Leaves for more details.