Bridge for bike path approved
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
The Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees at its meeting Nov. 18 approved a plan recommended by the village park board for the design of a bicycle and pedestrian overpass at Touhy Avenue on the Commonwealth Edison right of way.
The path will cross Touhy west of Lincoln Avenue and will connect to the Skokie Valley Trail.
The village board approved a contract with Stanley Consultants for engineering services for the overpass on March 5. The village received notice in 2011 that it had received a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Grant of $1,464,000 to cover 80 percent of the cost of constructing the bike path and the overpass, with the village’s share of the project $366,000.
The current estimate of the cost of the bridge is higher than the amount in the federal grant. Village staff believe that the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning likely would approve an increase in the grant to $3,750,000 after the first phase of the project is completed, with the village’s share increasing to $750,000.
The Illinois Department of Transportation approved the engineering phase of the project in January and issued a notice to proceed with the design of the bridge. Since then the Parks and Recreation Board has held three public meetings to discuss the project and two field meetings and has received comments from the public regarding its concerns.
Residents have expressed concern about the proximity of the crossing to the nearby Lincolnwood Suites and Barclay Place condominium buildings, the effect on their parking lot line of sight, lighting overspill, privacy and pedestrian access.
Concern also has been expressed about noise and crime on the path, property values, vegetative screening between the bridge and the buildings, operating hours, maintaining an open feel to the bridge, connectivity of the path to other paths and proximity to other residential areas.
The park board voted 5-0 on Oct. 14 to recommend construction of a span truss bridge with access on the north and south sides of the structure.
Paul Schneider of Stanley Consultants said at the village board meeting that the $3.7 million bridge would be 14 feet above grade, 280 feet in length and 100 feet wide, with stair access on both sides of Touhy. Some trustees questioned if the bridge needed to have local access.
"We wanted to build something that was easy to maintain," Schneider said. "You don’t have that much structure to worry about."
Schneider said that without local access, pedestrians would have to use access to the bike path bridge at Peterson Avenue to reach the path in Lincolnwood.
The park board eliminated five of the six bridge designs proposed by Stanley due to cost. Those included a truss bridge, a main span truss bridge, a continuous arch bridge, an arch-supported three-span truss bridge and a single tower cable-stayed bridge.
Trustee Jesal Patel said that he likes the idea of a cable bridge. "If you can have a signature piece, it could do a lot to bring people to the area," Patel said. "The bridge over Peterson is just built over a railroad bridge, and it is not unique."
Patel said that the Touhy bridge should be "memorable."
Trustee Renee Sprogis-Marohn said that the village has the opportunity to build something significant to improve the town for years.
Village manager Timothy Wiberg said that the park board chose the recommended design because it has an open feel that would allow motorists to see the future Shoppes at Lincoln Pointe development through it as they drive east on Touhy.
However, Trustee Lawrence Elster said that the key to the board’s decision is funding.
"We are going from $360,000 to $750,00," Elster said. "We need to make this decision. This affects our budget for the next 2 years. Is this a good idea to spend taxpayer money on?"
Also at the meeting, the trustees decided to place a referendum on the Feb. 24 ballot asking voters if the village clerk position should be appointed by the village board rather than elected.
A similar question was placed on the ballot in 2012, and 65 percent of voters voted against the proposal. Staff believes that the vote was affected by an unpopular concerning capital spending by Lincolnwood School District that was on the same ballot.
Village staff perform most duties of the village clerk, and eliminating the elected position would save the clerk’s salary of $8,000. Illinois law requires that a referendum be held in the case of a change of government.
The municipalities of Deerfield, Glencoe, Glenview, Northfield, Wilmette and Winnetka have appointed positions supported by staff.
The village board also authorized the village manager to execute a $30,275 contract to purchase a 2015 Ford police utility vehicle from Morrow Brothers Ford.
The board also marked the retirement of Public Works director Manuel Castaneda, who is leaving the position after 35 years with the village. Castaneda became a laborer for the village in 1979, and he was later promoted to equipment operator, supervisor, superintendent and to public works director in 2003.
The new director is assistant public works director Ashley Engelmann.