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More than a half mile of Lathrop Avenue is expected to get a new layer of blacktop this summer, thanks in part to a cooperative agreement with neighboring River Forest and a pile of state grant money.

Members of the village council signed off on the project last Wednesday, though previous cost estimates were increased by nearly $100,000. Forest Park is sharing responsibility for 20 percent of the total cost of $441,428 with River Forest. The other 80 percent of the costs, or $353,142, will be funded through a grant program in the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The state recently authorized an additional $77,125 for the project to cover an increase of roughly $96,400. The bump in estimated construction costs is due in part to an increase in the cost of materials and changes to the scope of the project.

Public Works Director Bob Kutak said the street isn’t in terrible condition, but given that the village will bear a minimal amount of the expense the project makes sense.

“It’s rated as fair, leaning to poor,” Kutak said of the road’s surface.

According to village records, .61 miles of Lathrop Avenue between Madison Street and Lake Avenue will be resurfaced, likely during the 2007 construction season. The state will oversee the bidding and actual work, but Forest Park has been assigned as the lead agency on the local front. All billing will go through the village and River Forest will reimburse Forest Park for its share of the expenses.

Forest Park will pay for the work using revenue from the .5 percent sales tax increase approved specifically for infrastructure improvements. This same .5 percent sales tax increase was used to fund the Village Improvement Program (VIP), which brought improvements to some 40 percent of the alleys and 25 percent of the streets during a recent two-year stretch.

“This is a significant and very cost effective improvement to an important secondary arterial roadway in the village,” Village Administrator Mike Sturino said in a memo to the council.

Work is expected to start in late July and be completed by early August, according to Kutak. Some traffic delays are likely, though one lane should remain open at all times. The project is not expected to entail more than resurfacing the road, but Kutak said if crews uncover additional problems with the road bed or other infrastructure, that could change.