The old saying goes “the road to progress is always under construction.” 

In this case it’s Madison Street, which will get a major upgrade starting around June 1. Construction along the dividing line between River Forest and Forest Park will take place between Desplaines Avenue west to the railroad tracks near Park Avenue. 

Enhancements added along Madison Street will include planter boxes, new street lights and decorative lamps. The area also will get new and wider sidewalks, bump outs, pedestrian crosswalks, curb cuts and driveway aprons. Brick pavers will be installed between the curbs and sidewalks, said John Anderson, River Forest’s public works director. 

Forest Park will install a new water main.

Work will be done in four stages:

The center median will be torn up and coarse asphalt put down. This area will serve as a driving lane while the work is done on either side of Madison.

A water main will be installed on the Forest Park side. All of the streetscape improvements will be redone and the roadway will be paved. During that time traffic will be shifted to the median and to the north side of the street.

Streetscape improvements will be done on the River Forest side and traffic will be shifted to the median and the south side of Madison.

The median will be repaved and a finishing coat of asphalt will be added, and shrubs and trees will be planted. All of this work will be finished next year.

 Sign boards notifying motorists of the construction are up and, as of June 1, parking along Madison Street west of Desplaines Avenue to the railroad tracks was banned. It will remain that way during the entire project, said Tim Gillian, Forest Park’s village administrator.

There is some street parking available on side streets and some of the businesses have rear entrances. Gillian said Forest Park police will be as lenient as possible as customers try to locate parking spaces nearby.

The entire project will cost $1.45 million. Each community will kick in $550,000 toward the enhancements; the water main will run about $350,000, and will be paid by Forest Park, Anderson said.

The project has been on the drawing boards for a while, and Forest Park, who took the lead on the project, got word two years ago that it would receive a state grant. But the contract to do the work wasn’t awarded until quite recently. It took quite a while to get the paperwork processed. To make matters worse, the state’s fiscal flux resulted in pushing the construction start date back from earlier this spring to the beginning of June. 

“We were sure we were going to get the grant, but there was no one to sign for it,” Gillian said.