WIUM Local
7:33 pm
Tue August 25, 2009

The Butchers of Ameren

Macomb, IL – Macomb is not happy about the tree trimming done by Ameren along Ward Street. In fact, the city says the utility butchered some trees. But it appears nothing more can be done about it right now.

The trimming was done in advance of the Ward Street reconstruction project. As part of that project, power poles along the east side of the street will be moved another four or five feet to the east. Ameren was supposed to trim nearby trees as needed.

Public Works Director Walter Burnett feels Ameren got a little "aggressive" with the trimming. He met with the company Wednesday to find out what happened.

"They maintained that they are within their mandated clearances. And it looks like for the most part they are within that," says Burnett. "I think, yet, they could have still taken a little bit better care of some of these issues than they did."

Burnett hopes Ameren will work more closely with the city and its residents in the future. "Some of these trees are pretty damaged, in our view," says Burnett.

He believes eight or nine trees were severely cut. The city says it has received some complaints.

Burnett says the city had just three trees scheduled for removal for the Ward Street project. He says the city planned to plant many more than that. Burnett says Macomb wants to protect its mature trees and is sensitive to the streetscape. He's not pleased with the way things have turned out so far.

The Ward Street Project

The Ward Street reconstruction project is scheduled to begin Wednesday August 26 and take about one year to complete.

The city held an informational meeting on the project on August 25. About 25 neighborhood residents showed up.

They were told the work will begin at Ward and Grant. The project will be done in phases, moving to the north. Engineer Eric Moe warned residents it will be either "dusty or muddy" during the project.

When the work is completed, Ward will be a three lane concrete road that's 33-feet wide. There will be a middle lane for turns. There will also be an eight-foot wide pedestrian and bicycle path of the west side of the street from Grant through Piper.

No sidewalk will be built on the east side of the street from Grant to Piper but that could change in the future if the city determines there is a need.

The street will have curbs and gutters so the ditches will be removed.

The speed limit will remain 30 mph. The intersection with Piper Street will no longer be a four-way stop. Instead, it will be a two-way stop for traffic on Piper.

The estimated cost of the project is $2.4 million. $1.2 million will come from I-DOT. $606,000 will come from the federal stimulus bill. $800,000 will come from the city's one-cent sales tax for infrastructure needs.