Elgin’s Route 31 bridge work done; Riverside Drive to open in 6-8 weeks
By Mike Danahey email@example.com @DanaheyECN on Twitter September 18, 2013 12:16PM
Updated: October 20, 2013 7:32AM
ELGIN — One of the major road projects in Elgin is for all intents and purposes complete. Meanwhile, a much-anticipated downtown project is still six weeks or so away from opening to traffic.
This late spring and summer, contractors working for IDOT have been replacing the west half of the bridge that carries Route 31 (State Street) traffic over Metra railroad tracks that are near the SKF plant. The bridge’s eastern half was replaced last year. Northbound drivers on the state-maintained route had consolidating into one lane hundreds of feet to the south, in the area of the La Movida nightclub and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore facility.
“The best knowledge we have is that IDOT is basically done with Route 31 over the tracks,” Elgin Public Works Superintendent Colby Basham said Wednesday morning. “They have a little cleaning and striping to do, but basically they are complete.”
Riverside Drive set to open in late October or early November
While the Route 31 work has been completed just before the official start of fall this Sunday, the long-awaited revamping of Riverside Drive is set for an unveiling later in autumn, perhaps around the time when clocks are turned back an hour.
Referred to as the Riverside Drive Promenade, the project area is designed to handle cars, offer pedestrians a riverwalk, and provide restaurants a chance of offer outdoor service.
According to IHC Construction Co. project manager Pete Nielsen, the road and the sidewalks should be open in late October or early November, with finishing touches such as benches left to be put in place after that.
Bids on canopy pieces are due Sept. 26, Nielsen said. If all goes as planned, once a contract is awarded, that work should be done in about three months, meaning the entire project should be done by late December or early next year, Nielsen said.
According to website set up by the Hitchcock Design Group related to the project (www.hitchcockdesigngroup.com/RiversideDrive.html#top), “the Riverside Drive parking deck was constructed in the early to mid-1960s. A portion of the deck was constructed over the Fox River supported on structural piles. Originally there was a second parking level that was removed leaving the current street level parking. In 2003 the remaining deck was closed to pedestrians and vehicles as the deck began to fail and sections began to fall into the river.”
The website notes the Elgin’s 2000 Riverfront/Center City Master Plan “identified the Riverside Drive parking deck as a unique opportunity to create a large urban park immediately adjacent to the River and Downtown retail core. Following completion of the Civic Riverwalk and Festival Park, Riverside Drive was the next area of focus for improvements along the River.”
“In 2003, Hitchcock Design Group worked closely with the city and Walker Parking to develop a series of alternative concepts for the Riverside Drive Promenade, and in 2006 the Hitchcock Design Group team was selected through a competitive process to finalize the design and bid documents for construction of the improvements,” the website adds.
In 2009, Elgin was awarded $8 million in River’s Edge Redevelopment Zone funding from the state and $1 million in Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity funding. The city contributed another $1.5 million to the $10.5 million project. IHC Construction was selected by the city in 2012 to be the construction management firm for the project.
Nielsen noted that project updates are made on the Riverside Drive Promenade Facebook page.