Mixing state, county and local funding, Forest Park may spend $6.46 million on infrastructure in 2023. | Images courtesy of Burke Engineering

Forest Park is poised to have a busy construction season once the weather warms up.

During the Feb. 13 village council meeting, Christopher Burke Engineering, the village’s planning and engineering consultant, presented an infrastructure plan for the 2023 construction season. Overall, the village plans to spend a little over $6.46 million, with much of the funding coming from either the village special funds or Tax Increment Financing districts.

While many of the projects are relatively routine maintenance, a few stand out. The Van Buren Street Multi-Use Path along the eastern edge of the historic Altenheim retirement community property is one. The village will also put bike parking at two Blue Line CTA train stations – the Harlem station and the Forest Park terminal. The village will also begin working on the state-mandated plan for how the village is going to replace its lead service lines. While the village will have plenty of time to replace the service lines, it must have the plan ready by 2024.

Jim Amilio, Burke Engineering’s project manager, said that, last time around, his company prepared a five-year plan for 2018 to 2022. But they realized that, the longer the plan went, the more likely they were to have to adjust things as economic conditions and other factors changed. 

Mixing state, county and local funding, Forest Park may spend $6.46 million on infrastructure in 2023. | Images courtesy of Burke Engineering

“Towards the end of a five-year plan, you kind of have to massage those projects as budgets change,” Amilio said. “This plan got sidetracked with COVID and budget constraints.”

The consultant decided to do a one-year plan, then two three-year plans from that point on. 

The Van Buren Multi-Use Path biking and walking trail will be built on the west side of the section of Van Buren Street between Madison Street and the spot near the start of the Illinois Prairie Path bike and walking trail, directly north of the CTA train yard. In the long run, it could provide a connection between the Illinois Prairie Path and the proposed south extension of the Des Plaines River Trail, which would run along Thatcher Avenue in River Forest and along Madison Street in Forest Park.

Construction is expected to start this summer. To start, $247,500 of the project costs will be covered through Cook County’s annual Invest in Cook County grant, and the remaining $334,500 will come from the village’s VIP fund.

The village will be building two bike parking structures for commuters. The Forest Park terminal bike parking will be built north of Grove Lane, which is used for Pace bus parking and turnaround. The Harlem station parking will be built on the northwest corner of Harrison Street and Harlem Avenue, where U-Haul is looking to build a new, larger facility. The project will require Illinois Department of Transportation approval, but if everything goes well, the village expects to start building those facilities this summer. The project will cost $111,375, with $100,237 of it coming from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant, and the rest coming from the VIP fund. 

The village will also be spending $2.985 million on water main replacement and resurfacing projects – something that the village has been trying to combine to avoid having to tear up roads multiple times. On Ferdinand Avenue, the section between the 800 and 1100 blocks will be resurfaced, and the section of it between 1000 and 1100 blocks will also get the water main replaced. The section of Wilcox Street between the 7600 and 7700 blocks will get both. The lion’s share of the project costs will come from the water fund, which in turn will use money from the sale of Rebuild Illinois bonds.

The village will spend $467,000 to separate water and sewer lines under the section of 15th Street between Circle and Marengo avenues.  Of that $360,000 comes from the Community Development Block Grant funding Forest Park received through Cook County, with the rest coming from the water fund.

The plan also touches on the repainting of the two water towers, which still need to be completed this year, and the repaving of the asphalt underneath them. The projects are funded entirely through local TIFs. 

The plan mentions, but doesn’t elaborate on, IDOT plans to resurface the section of Desplaines Avenue between Madison Street and Roosevelt Road, and the section of Roosevelt Road between Desplaines and Harlem Avenues. Amilio said that, since both streets are state roads, the village’s role is limited, and it isn’t required to contribute any funds. 

Commissioner Joe Byrnes asked if it would be possible to coordinate with IDOT to make sure they do water main replacements as well. Village Administrator Moses Amidei said that, while the village relayed those concerns to the state agency, there isn’t much else Forest Park can do.