Trustees approve $9 million downtown Skokie work
Updated: April 22, 2013 11:38AM
Skokie will spend nearly $9 million for roadway and streetscape improvements in downtown Skokie, the largest expense in a major overhaul of downtown intended to help further revitalize the area.
Village Manager Al Rigoni called the project “the most comprehensive improvement to the downtown ever taken.”
Village Trustees Monday unanimously approved a contract with Alliance Contractors, Inc. of Woodstock, one of four contractors that submitted bids. All project costs will be paid for from Skokie’s downtown tax increment finance fund.
Slated for four sequential phases beginning in spring and ending in fall this year, the project was the result of nearly two years of planning by a special team. Members included village staff, Independent Merchants of Downtown Skokie President Randy Miles and engineering and design consultants. The village also held six public presentations on the plans as well as smaller “customized” meetings.
Downtown Skokie project work includes pavement resurfacing and water main and sewer upgrades; curb and sidewalk replacement; street light replacement; upgraded and better coordinated traffic signals; a new traffic signal at Floral Avenue and Oakton Street; pedestrian safety enhancements including safe zone medians at key locations; parking lot improvements; landscaping, streetscaping and street furniture such as benches, waste receptacles, flower urns, bicycle racks and bus shelters; and directional and informational signs.
The project’s first phase calls for work on Oakton Street from the west village limits at Long Avenue east to Lincoln Avenue; the second phase includes the piece of Lincoln in downtown Skokie; third phase work covers Warren Avenue and Babb Street and Oakton to Niles Avenue; and the final phase tackles Niles east to Skokie Boulevard.
Each phase is to be started and completed within two months in an effort to create the least disruption as possible in downtown Skokie, officials said.
“The work will be more intensive, but we’re trying get done in a specific part of the business district,” Public Works Director Max Slankard said. “It’s a little inefficient in terms of contracting but what it allows us to do is basically deliver a finished product when we move out of there.”
The first phase, for example, is expected to be completed by early June.
Village Trustees last year had considered a controversial downtown upgrade proposal they called a “road diet” for Oakton Street, which would have narrowed the roadway and widened sidewalks to create a more pedestrian-friendly venue. However, there was vocal opposition to the plan, and trustees ended up turning the concept down.
At that time, they said their negative vote did not mean they were turning their backs on revitalizing downtown Skokie. They promised significant improvements would still be coming.
Not all of the downtown Skokie project components are part of the contract that was approved Monday, Slankard said. Informational signs, for example, will be part of a separate contract that will come to the Village Board in a couple of months.