Mayor Anthony Calderone initiated discussion with commissioners, Monday night, on the latest step in the planned Roosevelt Road revitalization project, first announced in June 2014. Specifically, the mayor solicited commissioners’ opinions on the authorization of a $5,000 preliminary traffic survey conducted by the village’s engineering firm, Christopher Burke Engineering.

Improvements to the thoroughfare are scheduled to start in spring 2016. As part of the construction, Forest Park is considering employing a “road diet,” which denotes narrowing of the road to increase parking and sidewalk space between Harlem and Desplaines avenues.

However, as Calderone explained to the council, “For us simply to consider narrowing [Roosevelt Road] we would need approval from IDOT [Illinois Department of Transportation]. IDOT won’t discuss the matter unless they have some data. That is what this proposal is all about — to do a preliminary traffic analysis so that we could then hopefully make a case to IDOT.”

The mayor, who described working with the state transportation department as “challenging,” said, “IDOT’s mission is moving traffic. … If our long-term plans are to rejuvenate Roosevelt Road, we may want to slow some of that traffic down.”

Although Forest Park plans to use funds from its Roosevelt Road TIF district (Tax Increment Financing) to conduct the survey, there is no guarantee IDOT would grant approval for the “road diet” project.

Commissioner Joe Byrnes called the survey “a worthy gamble.”

Commissioner Tom Mannix remarked, “I think it is worth looking into, especially just driving through what Oak Park and Berwyn did along Roosevelt Road. I know there is no guarantee. If we could get close to where they are, that would be a wonderful thing.”

The two neighboring communities Mannix referred to embarked on a similar project about three years ago. As reported by the Review at the time, improvements included “benches, bump-outs, planters, slate sidewalk accents and decorative lighting.”

After describing the survey as a “wise investment,” Calderone concluded, “I hope there would be a shared vision that we want to see the rejuvenation of Roosevelt Road.” 

Other business

 The newly created village rain barrel program, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, already has 88 participating households with over 200 barrels on the way. The village’s website has a link to a request form. 

 On Thursday, June 25 around 10:15 a.m., there will be a Wounded Warriors biker rally through Forest Park along Desplaines Avenue. After traveling through a few other neighboring communities, the motorcycles will enter Forest Park at Lathrop Avenue and Randolph Street from River Forest. The parade will have a police escort as it moves along Desplaines Avenue all the way out of town. The event is expected to include over 100 bikers. 

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