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Yorkville Mayor Supports Trimming Downtown Upgrades in Route 47 Expansion

Yorkville Mayor Gary Golinski hosts question-and-answer session at Bicentennial Riverfront Park.

Addressing the Route 47 expansion and the River Road bridge closure, Yorkville’s city leaders hosted a question-and-answer session at Bicentennial Riverfront Park Friday evening.

About 30 people attended the special meeting — which corresponded with the start of Yorkville’s River Night community festival — getting a chance to voice their concerns directly to Mayor Gary Golinski and other city officials. Most aldermen also attended the community forum, which was not considered an official city council meeting because the agenda had not been properly posted at the pavilion where the forum was held.

Debate over the plans to expand Route 47 dominated the hour-long meeting, with Golinski referring to the situation as a “quagmire” — a term first used by Ward 1 Alderman Carlo Colosimo — on several occasions. The conflict centered whether the city should reject bike trails state officials in construction plans, a decision that would save the city money but jeopardize funding for the whole expansion project.

“It’s really a topic I wanted the council involved with,” Golinski said. “Ultimately, it’s a council decision.”

Golinski outlined three possible courses of action the City could take, noting that the issue will be discussed in depth again at the City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday.

The first option calls for Yorkville officials to notify the Illinois Department of Transportation that they do not wish to include new trails and sidewalks in the Route 47 project. That would save the city $116,000 in construction costs, but would cost the city $30,000 in additional engineering expenses with IDOT, which would have to alter its expansion designs.

That option also delays the project six-to-nine months, potentially pushing it into another state budget year and putting funding at risk.

“That’s one option I don’t think anybody wants to see,” Golinski said. “We’ve been waiting years to get this road widened. To delay it, I just think would be detrimental to our city.”

Option two would have the City tell IDOT to continue with the project as planned, with the expansion likely being completed on-schedule in 2014 or 2015.

In the third scenario, the City would notify IDOT it plans to cut costs from the project in different areas than the trails and sidewalks. The cuts could come from plans to enhance downtown Yorkville, allowing the project to be completed at a reduced cost with less delay than if the sidewalks and trails were removed.

City staff suggested a few areas where project funding could be cut:

• Replace downtown fencing with the same fox detail used at the top of the wall at Riverfront Park — estimated at $172,000 for the fence and $40,000 for the handrail — with standard IDOT railing, which comes at no cost aside from $8,000 for black coating.

• Remove coloring (estimated at $19,000) or stamping ($59,000) of new crosswalks.

• Remove lights in select locations, such as between Route 126 and Fox Road or River Road to Somonauk Street, saving a total of $75,000, according to the council’s agenda.

Golinski said the third option does carry some reengineering costs, but that expects it to garner interest. Yorkville resident Kate Elder spoke up in support of that choice.

“It’s wants versus needs. While it’s nice to have a pretty downtown Yorkville — I think we all want that — what’s more important is the safety and safe recreation for the residents,” said Elder, a triathlete who trains by running and biking along roads in Yorkville. “I think that’s more important than pretty handrails.”

But opponents of the bike trails cited the fact that voters twice declined to give city officials permission to increase taxes to pay for the city’s portion of the bike paths, and argued that the cost to put the trails in would outweigh their benefit.

In response to the possible six-to-nine month delay, one man questioned whether Route 47 really needs to be widened in Yorkville.

Taking questions on a variety of issues, Golinski also touched on the May closure of River Road bridge, saying: “We have that as a top priority, to get that bridge reconstructed and reopened. That is vital to public safety here in the city.”

Golinski reported that an engineering firm determined in mid-June that there is no temporary solution for reopening the bridge and that the existing structure needs to be replaced. He listed a tentative timeline of March 12 to enter bids and the end of 2012 for the reopening the bridge “if the stars align.”

Editor's note: Click here to see a video of Golinski talking about the River Road bridge.

JasonH June 27, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Report the whole story. The Beacon is reporting that the city is on the hook for $3.58MM for this widening project (money the city is struggling to come up with according to their story), so these stupid bike trails are just a drop in the bucket of the pain we are all going to feel when this is over.
Jillian Duchnowski June 27, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Jason, That's a fair criticism. I've just uploaded as a PDF a letter from IDOT detailing the parts of the project to which the city is contributing. You'll see the $116,000 cost publicized for the bike trails broken up into two lines: $54,000 for trail and $62,000 for new sidewalk. You'll also see that the more expensive items (for the city) are $2 million for water mains and sewers, $495,000 for streetscape improvements and $140,000 for traffic signals at eight intersections. The total cost to the city is $3.58 million, which City Administrator Bart Olson has said the city has included in budget plans for future years.
In The Know June 28, 2011 at 12:06 AM
So, the "bike trail" every one is excited about is only one and a half percent of the city's total bill for this project? And how about the sidewalks? Those will need to be maintained, too. I wonder how many miles of sidewalks and paths are in the city now? Maybe they should all be ripped up, lest they incur any future maintenance costs. Thanks for pointing this financial data out, Jason.
Scratch on Patch June 28, 2011 at 12:27 AM
These are some expensive multi-use paths. Time to scrap the entire project. You are worried about delays from traffic build up now...Wait for the long duration of construction...wait for the 8 traffic lights. The city still can't get the current ones programed correctly. From the comments...it sounds like the current admin is failing the voters. Take the health care, support the paths, spend the money we don't have.
Dave June 28, 2011 at 12:35 AM
In The Know You are right. How can we possibly keep up these frills. If we stopped maintaining the roads and sidewalks we could save a ton of money and then we would be fiscally responsible. Do people really think this?
Scott Harmon June 28, 2011 at 01:09 AM
So, if we cancel the Route 47 project, can we retire the bonds with the budgeted $3.58 million dollars that the developers scammed us for and get our city property tax rate reduced? I can't believe they would ax sidewalks in addition to the bike path. I thought Yorkville earned the title as one of 118 Playful City USA awards? But we can not provide safe sidewalks and walking/bike paths? If we ax all of the pretty frills we will have more than enough money for the safe sidewalks and walking/bike paths along route 47 that will allow our all of us safe access to all of Yorkville's recreational offerings.
Scott Harmon June 28, 2011 at 01:10 AM
Thanks for the PDF Jill. That gives us the rest of the story.
Robert J. Gryder June 28, 2011 at 01:46 AM
I love reading "Yorkville mayor..." and then looking up to see a picture of Gary. I'm becoming a bigger fan by the day. I'm thinking about beginning a line of Yorkville Municipal Leaders trading cards. Gary will be on the cover of the package, but also the rarest card. If you know someone who has it, you have to give up a minimum of Lynn Dubajic, Eric Dhuse, a Funkhouser "Oath Night Edition," and the Bart Olson error-card where the printer ran Chief Hart's stats on the back to add it to your collection. Keep at it, Gary. You've got a long row to hoe and you're doing great.
JasonH June 28, 2011 at 02:03 AM
The story says one option is to take the trails out and delay the project 6 to 9 months, but with Yorkville's growth probably at zero now, if not negative, I say delay the entire project it for a few years.
Scott Harmon June 28, 2011 at 02:58 AM
You are absolutely correct JasonH. Let's bring the widening back with all of the frills included when we have all of our debt paid off and the building starts again and we can fund the entire project with real cost impact fees and the developers have to pay the entire bill, including the Route 47 widening costs, to build. Hopefully the future builders will be able to buy the vacant lots for pennies on the dollar from the bankrupt developers and they will be able to afford the real cost impact fees. With all of the lights being added to Route 47 for this project, I don't see any improvement in travel times coming out of this project.
Scratch on Patch June 28, 2011 at 03:26 AM
Whatever happened to the idea of a bridge at Eldamain? Menards warehouse is on Eldamain...it would also give us another route if the Route 47 widening was needed in the future. Another thought...Yorkville has enough schools...why should any buses need to cross the river? Divert semi and bus traffic and we are off to a great start. Then continue by making the intersecting streets into courts or turn-out/turn-in only.
Scratch on Patch June 28, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Correction - We only have one high school right now. Some buses would need to cross unless we made Raintree into a high school as well. Make the old high school a middle school and Freshman split between the 2 high schools. Hire more teachers, smaller class sizes, better grades and test results, more people wanting to move to Yorkville to have their children get a solid education and pay higher taxes. And if that isn't enough...we could build a Rt47 bridge to Eldamain bridge zip line. Charge $5 one way and $100 to get back. We could add bungee and extreme bridge climbing & repelling... Then we could change the town name to the Totally United Righteous Kingdom of Extreme Y-ville. or just T-U-R-K-E-Y for short.
Dave June 28, 2011 at 03:58 AM
So let me get this straight. Sometime in the past our elected city council voted approval for widening Rt. 47. This vote included paths as well as sidewalks, streetscapes, sewers, and traffic signals. The state moved forward with this info to create a plan to widen Rt. 47 as the city requested and comes up with a project cost. Again, the city nods yes to the project. The economy starts to not do too well so some people decide that a great way to save money and look conservative is to target one part of the Rt. 47 widening - the paths. This will save $116,000! The path issue gets on the ballot and is put forward as a way to save money. Guess what? The people that wanted to get rid of the paths did not do their homework. As a result we now have to spend $30,000 more to not have the paths. Years ago the elected officials of Yorkville told the state what Yorkville wanted. The state in good faith moved forward with plans. Yorkville needs to follow through with those plans as completely as possible without undo cost to the people of Yorkville. Mayor Golinski and the city staff have presented a win-win alternative by suggesting the removal of architectural enhancements. These changes will allow the Rt. 47 project to proceed while reducing the cost to the city. Great idea Mayor Golinski! Hopefully the city council will see this for what it is - a good idea that is fiscally responsible and helps the people of Yorkville.
In The Know June 28, 2011 at 04:29 AM
Dave, I think you are correct in the details, except that the $116,000 apparently represents adding some regular sidewalks ($62,000) with the bike trails ($54,000). In addition, the city council (including a few current members) approved a citywide bike trail plan that included several other trails besides the Route 47 trail. The city knew there was a 20% city match for trails along state highways, because it is in the plan (look up the Integrated Transportation Plan at the city's web site). Hopefully, if they are having second thoughts about their approved plan for other trails along Route 34, Route 47 and Route 71, they will let the state know in advance instead of at the last minute. I don't care what is deleted or left in, as long as it doesn't hog-tie the Route 47 widening schedule. I think the railing or decorative concrete can be changed without much effect to the schedule, as long as the dimensions are the same for the replacement plan. I think the bike trail and sidewalks are another matter because every change will cause a ripple effect in driveways, drains, manholes, property purchases, grading, and other items. But we will have to see what the city's and the state's experts can agree to. If the city hadn't shot itself in the foot several times over the last few decades, Route 47 would probably be widened by now. Hopefully, history won't repeat itself this time.
Scott Harmon June 28, 2011 at 12:28 PM
What is the payback for the $3.58 m investment into widening Route 47? How much more maintenance costs will the city have to bear with all of this additional asphalt and concrete requiring, policing, plowing, salting and repairing? Will the widening of Route 47 bring in an additional $3.58 m to the city's coffers? I don't think so, unless there is a riverboat casino going in downtown to generate mucho dinero. Getting our developer generated debt paid off and reducing property taxes will bring property values back up and help us get rid of the foreclosure inventory. Then people will be drawn back to Yorkville and we can get back on track with generating growth with no baggage hanging over our heads. Maybe that will be 5 or 10 years when we are really ready for Route 47 to be widened. Meanwhile, we can get River Rd back online and maybe some other Fox River bridges will pop up to alleviate the truck traffic on Route 47.
In The Know June 28, 2011 at 12:59 PM
Scott, waiting for another Fox River crossing to magically "pop up" instead of proceeding with a ready to go plan to fix Route 47 now is, with all due respect, wishful thinking. I am not sure how much yorkville can whittle without affecting schedule, but one benefit I can think of is the ability to get out of your driveway at 4 PM.
The Fighting Fox June 28, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Every time I hear a more about this I am amazed at how there were some people that apparently did the research and in retrospect, seemed to know what they were talking about, (we need to find money for this because there is going to be a problem) and some others that just tried to discredit them, (needs vs. wants, and maintenance cost complaints). There is a price to be paid for not listening to reason and developing rhetoric based on conjecture and unfortunately our whole community is about to pony those costs up.
YorkVillain June 28, 2011 at 02:13 PM
The "Yorkville Municipal Leaders trading cards" idea is awesome! If they screw up the Route 47 widening I will be the first in line to get the IMPEACHED! set.
It all comes out in the wash June 28, 2011 at 04:21 PM
I believe at one time the United City of Yorkville was not in good standings with the State and it took years to get back on track. I believe Gary is addressing this the right way, go with the basics and move on otherwise this city will suffer with any future projects with the state. I also believe there are more cuts to be made to help this City out starting with the senior Garbage and part time alderman health insurance. Cut where we can and this area should have been the 1st. As far as developers: Someone needs to help me understand how a developer can walk away and hand over these empty lots full of weeds and ticks then come back as another name and purchase them for just about nothing and still can't mow and take care of them? They should be FINED for not maintaining them. The TICK problem is bad and if they carry LYME its worse.
Scott Harmon June 28, 2011 at 11:43 PM
Being a patron of the Speedway on Route 47, it is just a matter of patience and timing getting out of the driveway, even when making a left hand turn. When we have 2 more lanes I'm betting the exit process will not be any better if not worse. The current inconveniences that we experience are nothing compared to what gridlock offers as you get closer to Chicago. Having US, as in you and I, pay $3.58 M to possibly mitigate some minor delays in traversing the city seems to be a very expensive solution for a minor inconvenience. Meanwhile, our property tax bills escalate making the existing foreclosure inventory even less desirable for potential buyers including investors that are turning these properties into rental properties. Well, the Orchard Rd. bridge popped up, so an Eldmamain Rd. bridge popping might happen, but to me, I rather we retain our current roads and I wish the River Rd. bridge would be restored sooner than later. If we took the $3.58 M and used it for our immediate needs we wouldn't be laying off established employees to save pennies, fix our current roads (yes, they are broken) and get rid of the debt that we got stuck with so we can restore our city property tax rate back to what it was before this disaster landed at our front door. Once the debt is pay off maybe we can use the sales tax increase funds to fully fund whatver we want and we will be back in control with surpluses in our fund balances.
Scott Harmon June 28, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Yes, yes, I know, this is all speculation, but I enjoy thinking of what our future would be with no debt and more power and flexibility of what we can use our city revenues for and the ability to make our city more attractive with lower taxes. Just a thought. Cheers. (continued since I got stopped at 1500 characters - I guess I broke the character governor on this site : ))

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