The Northfield village board on Monday night approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation for the widening of Willow Road from two lanes to four.
The project, which could start next spring, will cost the state about $33.7 million. Northfield’s costs will be about $1.3 million, but that will likely be reduced by a state transportation grant and reimbursement from private property owners for a traffic light that will benefit them.
What’s more, the village negotiated $2.5 million in special project funding from the state that can be put towards the village’s portion of the project's storm water improvements and utility projects.
Attorney Edward Gower of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, who worked on the agreement for the village, said it was important that IDOT enter into an enforceable intergovernmental agreement rather than issuing a letter of intent. He described it as a “very favorable agreement for the village.”
The plan would impact the congested artery from Waukegan Road to the Edens Expressway. It includes four 10-foot-wide lanes for most of its length, with a landscaped median, left-turn lanes, modernized traffic signals and sidewalks along both sides. A pedestrian-only signal would allow people to stop traffic to cross Willow Road between Willow and Clarkson parks, and the speed limit would be reduced from 35 mph to 30 mph.
According to the agreement, IDOT cannot start the project unless it has secured funding to do the whole thing – including the aesthetic enhancements that Northfield asked for and will help fund.
The plan calls for special decorative light poles, brick sidewalks in the downtown area and decorative bridge work, among other things.
Northfield Village Manager Stacy Sigman said that the village will see all the construction drawings at several points during their development and will be able to sign off on the final design after making sure all the components the village wanted are included.
Village Trustee Joan Frazier voted in favor of the agreement, but said she wanted to make sure that everything the village negotiated for remains in the final project.
“I’m not sure how this is all going to play out exactly,” Frazier said. “There are a lot of moving parts in this agreement. I’m agreeing to this, but I’m agreeing with the thought that we are agreeing to building the best possible Willow Road that we can. This is our chance to make the best out of this circumstance. It’s my hope that everyone will agree to all the enhancements.”
The plan is the product of more than two years of work between IDOT and a community advisory group, which included representatives from Northfield and the surrounding communities. IDOT expects to approve final plans this summer and start construction next year, with completion scheduled for fall 2014.
Trustee Brian Kozminski cast the only no vote, after questioning Gower about the lack of a set maximum for how much the village would have to pay.
“There is no cap on the village’s liability,” Kozminski said.