Elgin City council to consider funds for east-side bike lanes
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN on Twitter September 24, 2013 1:04PM
A bicyclist uses Elgin's Walnut Avenue bike lane several years ago. New routes on the northeast and southwest side are planned using federal grant money and local funds. | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: October 26, 2013 6:20AM
ELGIN — The city council on Wednesday evening will discuss approving funding to pay for the final engineering and construction of a bike route through Elgin’s northeast side.
The amount in question is $139,840 for agreements with the Illinois Department of Transportation and engineering firm TranSystems. A federal grant administered by IDOT would reimburse the city some of its expenditures, leaving the final cost to Elgin’s budget at $95,168. The money would come from the city’s share of Grand Victoria Casino money.
According to supporting material for this week’s committee of the whole meeting, the route would begin at the city’s corporate limits on Congdon Avenue, continue west on that street, then turn south on Prospect Boulevard.
At Slade Avenue, the route would head west to Douglas Avenue. At Douglas Avenue, the route would go south to where it joins bike lanes and routes in place downtown. At the eastern edge of town, the route would continue east to join existing and planned trails providing access to the Shoe Factory Road Woods and the Poplar Creek Forest Preserve.
Planned connections ultimately would link the route to the Prairie Stone corporate park in Hoffman Estates and as far east as the Busse Woods Forest Preserve in Schaumburg.
“Cook County’s reconstruction of Congdon Avenue in 2007 included the construction of a multi-use trail along the north side of the street from Indian Drive east to the project limits in Hoffman Estates. The city provided funding to Cook County for the construction of this multi‐use trail in the amount of approximately $130,000,” supporting material for the meeting states.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Elgin’s unofficial bicycling ambassador Tom Armstrong said, “This is huge. There are cyclists who may recall the enjoyment they had riding bikes as a youth or the fun they had more recently on a ride with friends, but they fear the interaction with motorists. They are much more likely to venture out of their neighborhood on a bike if the have facilities designed for their use such as sidepaths and bike lanes.”
The grant terms require the city to construct dedicated bike lanes as a condition for the federal aid. For the plan to move ahead, the council Wednesday also needs to approve limiting parking on the west side of Prospect Street and the south side of Congdon Avenue where the route would hold dedicated bike lanes.
The city’s executed agreements must be submitted to IDOT before Nov. 22 in order for the city to remain on schedule for IDOT bid lettings on Jan. 14, 2014.
The project came about after the city adopted a bikeway master plan in 2008, then sought and was awarded federal grants that year to construct the northeast route and another serving the southwest side of town.
The southwest route would start downtown near the Metra Chicago Street station. Using an access road linking the Chicago Street and National Street Metra stations, the route would join an existing trail as it crosses under the Route 20 overpass. The route would then head through Marie Grolich Park and along baseball fields at Continental Park.
It would continue west through the Elgin Mental Health Center property using Middle Road where it turns north on Central Road to its endpoint at East Road. The route would then continue west on East Road, head through the Elgin␣Sports Complex, then along Spartan Drive in the Elgin Community College campus. At Randall Road, the route would turn south to Bowes Road to Elgin city limits.
At a yet-to-be-determined upcoming meeting, the council will discuss moving ahead with the design and engineering phase of the southwestern route. That project is estimated to total $3 million, with the city contributing about $700,000 toward it. Primary engineering for this route was approved by the council in 2009 in the amount of $230,500, with the city responsible for 20 percent of that project cost or $46,100.
The meeting materials note that since the bike plan came to be, thinking in the biking community has moved toward favoring the use of signs along less-congested streets to be part of routes. As such, the material notes, “it is not likely that any (other) bikeway proposals involving either dedicated or shared bike lanes will be presented to the city council in the foreseeable future.”