Plans to revitalize Macomb’s downtown square will soon be sent to the Illinois Department of Transportation for review. The city hopes to get grant money from the state to help pay for $3.5-million worth of upgrades.
Jim Burke is with Hutchison Engineering, the design firm for the project. His firm has been awarded DOT grants for projects in Rushville and Jacksonville. He is confident the DOT will be on board for Macomb’s street repairs.
“We will file this project as a historic project rather than a street-scape project because it’s related to a historic downtown, being in that category it will tend to score better, you’re up against less competition,” Burke said.
He said the DOT could award up to $2-million for the project. The city would then need to come up with the difference to fully fund the plans. If the grant is awarded, construction could begin the summer of 2016.
Plans for the downtown show one of the two center rows of parking will be removed. This will allow for the traffic lanes, remaining parking spots and sidewalks to be widened.
The single remaining center row of parking will then allow drivers to not only back up but pull forward when leaving their parking space.
"There’s a lot of pavement that is going to be a part of this project, but we will be softening it up with a lot of street-scape and tree plantings and native species to Illinois as far as flowers and grasses,” Burke said.
Macomb Mayor Mike Inman said there were a couple of goals attached to the redesign.
“We have a frequency of back in crashes on the square that we wanted to address and minimize,” Inman said. “Also there’s a proliferation of large pickup trucks that are often four door cab trucks. When you get two parked, we’ll say abutting one another on the square it reduces the drivability of the square and almost to a critical need where we are trying to address the flow of traffic.”
Speed limit signs will also be added displaying a limit of 20 mph. The redesign aims to increase visibility and make it more obvious that cars on the square have the right away over those entering the square.
“With the new design, there will be a defined stop bar with a decorative bollard that will have a stop sign on it. Typical traffic control, you’ll come up, stop, yield to pedestrians if they are there, you’re able to roll through the intersection and yield to your left and then just merge on and go,” Burke said.
The construction would take about 18 months. Burke said it would be done in sections as to keep the square drivable and businesses open.
“We’ll maintain access to the businesses at all times. It will be a little dusty, dirty, loud and inconvenient but we will make sure people can get in and out and we will just work our way around the square until it’s complete," Burke said.