River Forest officials will use a $100,000 Cook County grant to reconstruct existing sidewalks and crosswalks in the village that have been identified as not compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
The grant is through the county’s 2023 Invest in Cook grant program, which seeks projects consistent with the five priorities of Connecting Cook County, the county’s long range transportation plan.
The River Forest project aligns with two of those priorities, prioritizing transit and other transportation alternatives, specifically providing a complete and fully accessible cycling/pedestrian mobility system and maintaining and modernizing what already exists.
According to Seth Jansen, management analyst for the village, the project also aligns with other regional strategic plans, specifically the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning On to 2050 goal of supporting the development of walkable communities and the Cook County Policy Roadmap strategic plan’s Smart Communities objective of increasing accessibility and connectivity.
“The village board prides itself on walkability and accessibility,” Village President Cathy Adduci said. “The village’s recently adopted Age-Friendly Report, led by Trustee Respicio Vazquez, prescribes continuing our efforts to improve sidewalk conditions.
“The $100,000 funding from Cook County allows us to move on these improvements more quickly to address substandard sidewalk conditions across town. We are grateful for the working relationship and partnership we have with Cook County.”
Officials are still waiting for Cook County to provide an intergovernmental agreement. Once received, Jansen said he expects the village board to approve the agreement. He also said an exact timeframe is dependent upon timing of IGA, awarding of the grant and when officials can advertise and bid the scope of work.
Officials anticipate approximately six to eight weeks for actual construction once a contractor has been approved by the village board, he added.
According to the Cook County website, the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways has administered the Invest in Cook grant program since 2017, providing funds to local nonprofit organizations and government agencies to advance transportation improvements throughout the region.
The annual $8.5 million program has provided local and regional governments transportation funds to cover the cost of planning and feasibility studies, engineering and construction associated with infrastructure improvements consistent with the county’s transportation and economic development policy priorities.
Jansen said village officials learned that River Forest’s application was one of nearly 80 received and that the total amount sought by all grant applicants was more than $30 million.