Streetscaping on Madison Street in Forest Park and River Forest will get a boost west of Desplaines Avenue thanks to a $1.34 million grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) and IDOT, the two villages announced Jan. 30.

The funds will be used to spiff up Madison between Desplaines and Van Buren streets, making the streetscaping feel continuous travelling west and, hopefully, attracting more businesses on both the Forest Park and River Forest side, Forest Park Village Manager Tim Gillian said.

Gillian said he applied for the ITEP grant, with the help of Forest Park’s part-time lobbyist Matt O’Shea, who served as Forest Park’s second village administrator between 2000 – 2004.

“If anyone questions the value of our lobbyist, Matt O’Shea did a lot of the work,” Gillian said.

The ITEP is a federal grant, and encourages streetscaping that incorporates elements that encourage bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

IDOT received 328 applications requesting ITEP federal funding totaling nearly $327 million, the Village of Forest Park said in a press release. Gillian said only 53 municipalities got the funds.

“Forest Park was the lead agency on this,” said River Forest Village Administrator Eric Palm. “We appreciate all the hard work.”

Palm added, “This type of collaboration shows local governments responding well to challenges and cooperating to do things differently.”

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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