For three weeks, huge machines have been sitting idle in Forest Park. Orange signs tied to trees say “No Parking Any Time.” Sidewalks torn out at corners are surrounded by sawhorses, forcing pedestrians to walk in the street. Portable toilets bake on lawns. And still no work has gotten done.
It’s not been the quirks of summer weather interrupting these jobs. The construction workers’ strike that’s affected hundreds of projects in the state has brought road and sidewalk work in Forest Park to a standstill, too.
Village Administrator Tim Gillian is counting the weeks of clear, sunny construction-appropriate weather being wasted and, even if the deal struck Monday night is ratified by the unions this weekend, he’s worried that yet another week of construction season will be lost before all workers get back in step.
Members of the Laborers’ District Council of Chicago and Vicinity went on strike June 29. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 did the same July 1.
Gillian said reconstruction of Greenberg Road, the pockmarked east-west shortcut from DesPlaines Avenue to Circle, should have started the day the strike did. That much-awaited repair project is now on hold.
“It’s very frustrating,” Gillian says. “Contractors who are involved in the Brown Street project have heavy equipment parked on site. Technically, you have to have machine operators, who are on strike, to move that equipment. But if I’m not hearing that this is ending, I will order it moved,” Gillian told the Review on Friday.
Gillian said the strike also affects Forest Park’s 50/50 sidewalk square replacement program, as well as alley reconstructions and the repaving of Fillmore Street.
Kimberly Bynum, 34, who lives in the 7400 block of Franklin, expressed frustration one day last week as she walked her Bichon puppy Bam-Bam: “When I’m out in the morning, I have to stay on my block because I don’t want him walking through that.”
By “that,” Bynum means the ripped-out sidewalk, dirt and debris at the corner of her block and many other blocks in the north end of town. She pointed to nearby lawn where there was an overturned portable toilet: “Someone knocked it over Friday night.”
“It’s hazardous,” Bynum says. “Two cars can’t really pass at the same time,” she said, referring to the intersection of Franklin and Des Plaines. “You can’t walk through the corners, and you really can’t walk on the grass – you can’t do that to your neighbors. When I’m out in the morning, I see many people having problems with this.”
As she spoke, two men coming from the el could be seen using the street rather than risk walking through the missing portions of sidewalk.