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Downtown Elgin work to be in full swing in June

The Riverside Drive Promenade is among projects set begsometime June downtown Elgin. | File~Sun-Times Media

The Riverside Drive Promenade is among the projects set to begin sometime in June in downtown Elgin. | File~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 13, 2012 8:23AM

ELGIN — In July 2003, the city shut down Riverside Drive, between Chicago and Prairie streets, when a portion of the roadway over the Fox River collapsed.

Now, the city is finally prepared to demolish and rebuild the street — originally built for the Joseph Spiess department store in 1976 and said to have cost the city millions since the former parking structure was taken over when the store closed.

The Riverside Drive Promenade construction project is set to begin in mid-June and will restore two lanes of traffic on the river, connect existing riverside bike paths and create riverfront recreation opportunities. Funding for the $10.5 million project comes from $8 million in state funding, a $1 million state grant and $1.5 million in city funding, said Pete Nielsen, project manager from ICH Construction.

The mid-June start date is expected to correspond with four other downtown area construction projects as well, according to officials speaking this week at a Downtown Neighborhood Association update for downtown businesses and residents.

In addition to the Riverside Drive Promenade, work is expected to begin in mid-June for the fifth phase of Elgin’s downtown streetscape work, Kimball Street and bridge resurfacing, and a riverbank stabilization project on the west side of the Fox River.

The Kimball Street resurfacing project is budgeted at $2 million, said Joe Evers, city engineer, and will run from Route 31 (State Street) to Dundee Avenue.

It will be a six- to eight-week project, he added, with two weeks set aside just to resurface the bridge. One lane will remain open in either direction there, he said.

Because the project is funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation, once bids are opened on April 27, “it will go to Springfield for approval” before the work can start, likely in mid-June.

The streetscape project is the fifth of seven phases of downtown road construction that began in 2007. During the ongoing project, Elgin has been rebuilding downtown streets and sidewalks, including underground work to improve sewer, water and other utility systems.

Phase 5 includes surface and underground, water and sewer reconstruction on Spring Street from Division Street through Kimball, and Dexter Court from Douglas Avenue to Villa Street, said Brian Fairwood, vice president of TranSystems, the city’s engineering consultant.

“We will do the underground first, then are coming back and doing the surface,” Fairwood said.

The underground work will, again, likely start in mid-June.

Metra’s riverbank stabilization project will involved damming part of the Fox River from Kimball Street south, so crews can remove part of the riverbank, place sheeting, and recover the riverbank with rock to prevent erosion under the tracks.

“That project not scheduled yet, but with my luck, June,” Evers said.

During all of the work, the downtown association plans to work with businesses to keep them updated on what is planned, said Director Tonya Hudson. Daily emails are planned to help give those businesses information about possible road closures and parking issues.

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