McDonough Street widening scheduled for this summer
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org April 15, 2013 9:39PM
Updated: May 17, 2013 6:47AM
McDonough Street will be widened this summer, a project that includes center turn lanes, bicycle lanes and a yet-to-be-determined extra lane for the Oakwood Estates neighborhood.
The Joliet City Council on Monday reviewed the project and in a separate action approved funds to demolish the old Warren-Sharpe Community Center building.
The McDonough Street widening is a $5.1 million project that will run from Houbolt Road to 129th Infantry Drive. The council is slated to vote Tuesday on whether to spend $403,000 for the city share of the project, which is mainly funded by Will County because the street is a county road.
Once the project is done, however, Joliet will take over the road. The city funds, which come from motor fuel tax revenue, will pay for the bike lanes and streetlights, improvements that Joliet wants.
Most of the discussion on the project during the council’s workshop session Monday focused on one neighborhood’s efforts to add another turn lane, which would cost $50,000. Oakwood Estates is seeking a right-turn lane for motorists entering the subdivision, which is already getting a left-turn lane into it as part of the widening project.
City officials said there’s no evidence that a right-turn lane is needed for safety reasons, noting that only 22 cars a day make the right turn and there has not been an accident in three years involving a car turning right at that spot.
“This is one of those things we really don’t have money set aside for,” City Manager Thomas Thanas said. “My firm answer two or three weeks ago was a definite no.”
Thanas, however, said his position softened Monday when he got a call from Will County Executive Larry Walsh, who told him the county would pay $25,000 for the right-turn lane if the city would put in a like amount.
Thanas offered to contribute $10,000 in city funds if the residents of Oakwood Estates would pay the remaining $15,000.
“A $10,000 investment would be reasonable, but we certainly need the homeowners to help out with it,” he said, adding that the right-turn lane “benefits the homeowners more than it does the public.”
As for the Warren-Sharpe Community Center, council members agreed to spend $69,000 in federal funds granted to the city to demolish the organization’s old building.
Warren-Sharpe is a nonprofit group that provides social services to low-income families. It does not have the money to tear down the building, 472 S. Joliet St., “and it’s just not safe anymore,” Executive Director Kay Bolden said. She said the building, unused since 1996, has deteriorated to the point that exterior panels are falling off.
Joliet will fund the demolition from federal funds provided to acquire abandoned homes and demolish property that is viewed as a risk to public safety. The plan is to use the land to expand an existing park.