Not everyone is happy about proposed Bowman Avenue improvements planned by the city.
Several residents attended a public meeting Thursday for Phase II of the Bowman Avenue project at the city’s public works facility.
The next phase of the Bowman Avenue project extends from Winter Avenue to Crestview Drive in Holiday Hills, where the traffic light exists.
The meeting gathered comments and concerns from the public.
Diana Lewis, property manager with Georgian Heights Apartments, 1935 N. Bowman Ave., doesn’t want the proposed sidewalk going around the curve back to Georgian Heights.
She says only a couple residents there ride the bus, of the 72 apartments, and she doesn’t want others coming onto the private property.
A Hanson Engineers representative told her the choice is hers with the city’s right-of-way purchase.
Also, she’s concerned about the sidewalk extension along Bowman and being responsible for clearing off snow and ice, a decline in property value and also more people hanging around the bus stop at the new bus turnout site.
Bus shelters are not proposed with this project, but she’s also opposed to them.
Trash, graffiti and lighting are other concerns, in addition to possibly creating an inviting site for sex offenders at the bus turnout near the apartments and Immanuel Lutheran School.
Lewis said city engineer David Schnelle came out to the property last summer to show her the proposed changes, including the ditch area and the part of land needed for the work. Georgian Heights is within the city’s zoning jurisdiction.
Schnelle said the sidewalk extension, on public right-of-way, is to improve access to the apartments along Bowman Avenue.
The bus turnout, a pull-off location for the bus, is aimed to be a traffic safety improvement, Schnelle said. A bus won’t have to turn around in Vermilion Gardens.
Resident Donna Starwalt is concerned about some of her yard being taken by the project.
“It definitely needs resurfaced,” she said of the crumbling street.
Other issues residents brought up were drainage issues and emergency vehicle access.
Marilyn Jimson said she wants to make sure emergency vehicles can reach her home at any time if needed. She also wanted to know how much of her property will be required for the project.
“They will take out some of my driveway,” she said.
Jimson said she also leaves early for work and she wants to make sure she will have access to and from her home during construction.
The proposed improvements along Bowman, from Crestview to Winter, consist of widening the roadway from the existing three-lane section north of Crestview Drive north to Holiday Drive, with the addition of curb and gutter and overlaying the pavement throughout the project.
Construction is estimated at $2.9 million, but the city hasn’t secured the funding.
Construction could begin as early as 2013. Daytime single lane closures will be necessary. Driveways will be maintained and may need to be closed for a short time during the improvements.
Improvements also include a bus turnout on the east side of Bowman Avenue, south of Garden Drive; a storm sewer system to convey water away from the roadway; a bicycle/pedestrian path between Winter Avenue and Holiday Drive on the west side; the extension of a sidewalk from Holiday Drive down to the existing sidewalk along the west side of the road; and urban mailbox turnouts to maintain mail delivery service.
Also, at the intersection of Holiday Drive and Bowman Avenue, a left turn lane will be installed for northbound traffic to turn onto Holiday Drive.
The overlay and widening to accommodate a bi-directional turn lane between Crestview and Holiday will improve safety because of the numerous entrances within that section, according to officials. The traffic light at Crestview will not be affected by the project, Schnelle said.
“We’ll stop construction before the traffic signal,” he said.
The city will need to purchase right-of-way areas along the stretch.
The first phase of this project included resurfacing, shoulder widening, ditch cleaning, culvert extensions, drainage improvements and lowering the hill at Libery Lane on Bowman from Winter Avenue to West Newell Road. The work was funded through the Illinois Jobs Now program. The project was awarded to Cross Construction of Urbana for $2.44 million.
In addition to the $2 million Illinois Jobs Now program funding, the city also received $180,000 in truck access route funds and $420,000 in federal funds.