The River Forest Village Board is bringing back a transportation engineering consultant with past ties to the village to undertake a commuter parking study.

The village board voted 6-0, Oct. 28, to award a contract to Kenig, Lindgren, O’Hare, Alboona Inc. (KLOA), which has performed “numerous” transportation-related studies for the village, most recently the Safe Walking Routes to Schools Plan and transportation elements of the village’s comprehensive plan, according to Jeff Loster, village engineer. The project cost is $24,500 with an expected completion date of February 2020.

The village board has seen a recent increase in requests for parking restrictions and complaints from residents about existing restrictions, including one made at the Oct. 28 meeting. Trustee Respicio Vazquez noted the increase in thanking staff members for their commuter parking study efforts.

Trustee Tom Cargie suggested that a “different set of eyes” might be better suited for the study, but he still cast a Yes vote.

Including a study of the parking lots at Concordia University and Dominican University was supported by Trustee Patty Henek and Village President Cathy Adduci.

Trustee Katie Brennan recommended that the study reflect ride-sharing, electric vehicles and self-driving cars, as included in the comprehensive plan. She also suggested the village consider partnering with businesses that might want electric-vehicle charging stations in front of their businesses.

Loster said six firms responded to the request for proposals that village officials issued in September with proposal costs ranging from $25,000 to $40,000.

Identified by Loster as “substantial tasks” to be performed by KLOA are creation and distribution of a commuter parking questionnaire; a commuter parking utilization survey; projected commuter parking demand estimates; and a public engagement meeting at which residents and business owners will be able to provide feedback. KLOA also will create a commuter parking recommendations report and make presentations to the traffic and safety commission and the village board.

For purposes of the study, KLOA officials have identified commuters as River Forest residents and nonresidents who park on the village’s public streets and utilize the transit services within or adjoining the village, including the Metra commuter rail service, CTA rapid transit service, CTA bus service and Pace bus service. Commuters also include students and staff members from Dominican and Concordia who utilize street parking.

Since River Forest only has a limited number of off-street parking spaces for commuters, dedicated to the River Forest Metra station and managed with monthly permits, KLOA officials said, village officials rely on street parking to manage much of the commuter parking demand. Further, since the transit stations and university campuses are imbedded into residential and commercial areas of River Forest, village officials must balance the commuter parking needs with the employee and customer parking needs of local businesses and guest parking needs of residents, they added.

KLOA officials will begin the process by meeting with village staff to review the work scope and deliverables; obtain date available from the village; review current parking regulations and fees; attain parking enforcement policies and techniques; and obtain images of current parking permit tags from the village and universities. In addition, they will discuss resident and business concerns; confer on commuter parking trends and potential future needs; note any recent changes in commuter parking capacities or policies; confirm the boundaries for the parking surveys; and review the project schedule and submission dates for staff review and discussion with the traffic and safety commission and village board. 

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