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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.

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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