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By Anna Lothson
Governor Pat Quinn joined Oak Park Village President David Pope and leaders from Cicero and Berwyn last week to celebrate the end of an extensive streetscaping project between Harlem Avenue and Austin Boulevard.
The funding for the $9.5 million project was part of the governor's six-year, $31-billion program to address municipal, township and county infrastructure and improve public safety. The job was paid for with a $4 million grant from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program and another $2 million from the Illinois Department of Transportation. Oak Park contributed $1 million of the costs.
Quinn joined a pack of local, state and federal officials who attended the ceremony at the corner of Roosevelt Road and Lombard Avenue in Berwyn, which borders Oak Park and Cicero.
"We've got to make sure we've got our transportation second to none," Quinn told attendees in a crowded parking lot last Thursday. "We also have to invest in local streets and local highways that people use to get to school, to work, to shop."
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, representing the 7th District, which includes Oak Park, highlighted the strong partnerships between the federal government and local municipalities to complete the project. That collaborative spirit, he said, made the Roosevelt project possible.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also applauded the governor's commitment.
"If you want a strong community, if you want strong counties, if you want a strong state, you need good infrastructure," Preckwinkle said.
The 1.25-mile stretch of road was a multi-jurisdictional effort that resulted in a streetscape design plan with new zoning regulations and improved appearance, accessibility and function for the corridor.
In addition to the Roosevelt project, leaders also remarked on the remaining $100 million announced for local transportation projects.
"At a time when many states are cutting back on critical transportation and infrastructure projects, Illinois is moving forward," Quinn said in a printed release. "This latest capital investment will provide local communities with the resources they need to create jobs and support economic growth."
Following a handful of speeches from leaders about the announcement, Pope joined the crowd and held the official ribbon-cutting with Cicero Town President Larry Dominick and Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero. "It's terrific to have three municipalities together to celebrate not just in adjacent communities, but as a whole," Pope said. "It's a really important corridor in the western suburbs."
Because no single town controlled the project, he said, it was "critically important" that they had a collaborative mindset during the two-year period. The effort resulted in a roadway, he said, that is "drastically improved."
"It's a testimony to the leadership of the governor — including his senior staff and leadership of the Illinois Department of Transportation — who understand that reinvesting in more densely populated urban areas gains proportionate benefits in terms of investment and job creation," Pope said.