After taking a brief break during the doldrums of winter, a $9.5-million construction project on Oak Park’s southern border is back in full swing.
Earlier this month, crews started work to replace the sidewalks and catch basins on Roosevelt Road on the Oak Park side between Harlem and Oak Park avenues. The city of Berwyn commenced a similar effort on the other side of the busy street about three weeks ago.
Oak Park, Berwyn and Cicero are teaming up to reinvent the stretch of Roosevelt from Austin to Harlem. The project, which first broke ground in September, will include installing decorative streetlights, brick sidewalks, benches, bike racks and trash bins.
After finishing the first stretch of sidewalks, the communities will then repave Roosevelt between Harlem and Oak Park, according to Oak Park Village Engineer Jim Budrick, followed by the same between Oak Park and Ridgeland, and finally Ridgeland to Austin.
About $4 million of the project is being funded through a grant from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, along with another $3 million from the Illinois Department of Transportation. The remainder of the contract is being split among Berwyn ($1.3 million), Oak Park ($1 million) and Cicero ($250,000).
Budrick expects the work to wrap up in mid-November, about three months behind schedule because of a labor strike last year.
Roosevelt has been through the gamut of construction of late, including a $1.2-million “interim” resurfacing completed last September. The business district hopes to stay a step ahead of any potential harm the upcoming construction might cause to businesses along the stretch, said Paul Zimmermann — an Oak Park resident, president of the Roosevelt Road Business Association and owner of properties on both sides of the street. Budrick said the communities have been holding weekly construction meetings and continually updating business owners on the progress of the project.
“I think everybody is just going to do their best to get people to come on down and let them know that businesses are still open,” Zimmermann said last year before the project started.