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If you've driven around the Village lately, you'll notice some of the area streets have been repaved. Over the last year, the Village of Park Forest has spent nearly $9 million on roughly six miles of roadway.
Assistant Public Works Director Nick Christie explained the Village had two separate road projects they were working on this year. The first was the Local Project, which consisted of a host of neighborhood streets, such as Braeburn, Lee, Green, Seward, Cromwell, and Tamarack, to name a few.
The Local Project included 17 streets, and the Village invested $6.15 million of taxpayers' funding to repave and replace almost 4.5 miles of roadway.
The second project was Shabbona Drive Reconstruction, which cost $2.8 million. Crews repaved Shabbona Drive from Indianwood Bolvervard to Sauk Trial.
Christie said Federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds paid for most of the Shabbona Drive Reconstruction Project.
"Unlike the Local Project, which was funded 100 percent by taxpayers here in Park Forest, the Shabbona Drive Reconstruction Project was funded mostly by Federal STP Funds," Christie said. "Federal STP funds paid 80 percent, and the Village paid the other 20 percent, which equaled to roughly $557K."
Christie said he understands some residents may not realize the amount of money the Village is putting into its infrastructure as many people wonder when their streets will be done. He said the ultimate goal is to get to every street, but it comes down to funding.
"The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) assisted the Village with a Pavement Evaluation Study in 2019 that ranked the condition of every road in Park Forest," Christie said. "They provided a list of which streets were in the worst condition and needed to be repaved right away - so we've prioritized those streets."
Christie pointed out that CMAP's evaluation was one of many determining factors on which streets would be done this year. He said the other things they considered included infrastructure. He said the goal is to replace roads along with water main replacement projects when possible.
"Some of the roads we replaced this year were the lowest scored in the CMAP pavement study," Christie said. "Others did not score as low but were chosen for replacement due to already completed water main replacement work."
Christie emphasized the Village isn't always able to replace a street when the water main is replaced, but said that is the ideal situation.
Christie explained how funding works with road construction. He said federal programs typically don't fund local neighborhood streets but will assist with more significant roadways, known as Federal Aid Routes-Urban (FAU), such as Shabbona, Indianwood, Orchard, etc. He added that funding for neighborhood local roads relies on Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) and local Park Forest property tax dollars.
"In recent years, the Village has allocated approximately $800,000 annually to roadway reconstruction work, which will fund approximately 1 mile of roadwork. The Village owns about 70 miles of roads", Christie said
Christie said that DPW is working hard to acquire all possible funding sources to reconstruct the local roadway system. However, Christie said they won't be able to do massive projects annually because of funding concerns."
"It is an anomaly for our department to receive over $6 million for road construction," Christie said. "I believe it's the biggest investment the Village has ever made for road construction projects." The Village was able to do this by pooling together state and federal relief grant funds along with local fund balance reserves.
Christie said next year, the Village will announce upcoming road construction projects.