With the reconstruction of the Eisenhower Expressway in line to potentially move forward, but without the state’s Department of Transportation having allocated money from the new federal infrastructure bill yet, Oak Park Village President Vicki Scaman told Wednesday Journal she was more than ready to have the highway in better condition but has no power in the planning process.
“I desperately want to see this happen,” she said. “I am advocate for this, but I am not a player in the plans.”
Scaman said she would be leaning on Don Harmon, Illinois Senate President (39th) and an Oak Parker, to inform the village of a possible timeframe for funding allocation. The amount of engineering work that will be carried out, she believes, will rely very heavily on how much money the project is given. The engineering blueprints have been in the works for about a decade, according to Scaman.
“We have many different renditions of what a plan could look like,” she said.
She does intend to push for substantially wider bridges in Oak Park when those discussions come around, believing it a matter of both safety and equity.
“I feel that they’re necessary for safety for bike-ability, walkability and for transportation,” she said. “And also, I believe it to be an equity issue in connecting the south end of Oak Park to our other business districts.”
Showing attention to the section of Oak Park south of the Eisenhower Expressway, she called, “long overdue.”
As there have not been any conversations regarding this project at the current board table, Scaman could not say whether she believes the village trustees would agree in her assessment.
Discussions will begin to happen in earnest in Oak Park once construction plans come forward, according to Scaman. Those discussions will include a process for which Oak Park residents can provide their own input. As to when people can expect those discussions to begin, Scaman could only provide “hugely a rough estimate” of 2023.
Those afraid that the small village will get even smaller due to this particular highway renovation project should not worry at this point, as the village president stated she is not aware of any expansion of the ditches in the plans.
“No need to take additional land away from the village of Oak Park to make repairs has been outlined to me,” she said.
As for the rather unconventional center exits to Oak Park, those are unlikely to be repositioned, according to Scaman. However, there are no finalized plans to confirm that definitively.
“I can’t say never, but as far as I am aware, that’s not in the plan.”