The City of Elgin might say goodbye to intersection improvements at Dundee Avenue and Summit Street -- a project that began in 1995 and has more recently drawn heavy criticism from the community since a roundabout design was approved in 2008.
Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal said the decision is based on money, in light of the city's projected finances, rather than design.
"This structural budget deficit that we've identified has caused us to rethink -- it's caused us to go back to the table and rethink everything," Kozal said.
The design, Kozal said, is sound and could be used for a future project.
The city council will discuss staff members' recommendation to cancel plans for the roundabout at the committee of the whole meeting Wednesday. The council last discussed the project in January when members approved 6-1 an agreement with the state for a federal grant to help with property acquisition.
Councilman John Prigge, the lone dissenter, said at the time that other intersections were more dangerous and the roundabout design could push traffic to nearby streets, creating other burdens. Some council members justified approval for the project because it was originally brought forward by a previous council and money had already been spent.
The city's cost for design work has exceeded $653,000 and another $206,816 was spent to purchase the Dunkin' Donuts property. Kozal said the entire property was purchased -- rather than the portion needed for the roundabout -- in a strategic move using TIF funds that can only be used for development in the designated TIF district. The total cost, then, is somewhat less than the $860,000 it looks like the city has already spent on the project.
But that's a small portion compared to the total.
By backing out now, the city will save more than $1.1 million it anticipated contributing in construction costs for the almost $3.3 million project.
"There seem to be more pressing needs for streets in general," said Colleen Lavery, Elgin's chief financial officer. "We're prioritizing."
Kozal said growth projections and traffic congestion estimates from the 1990s do not match the current reality at the Dundee Avenue and Summit Street intersection. The need is no longer there.
If the council decides to maintain project plans, property acquisition is expected to finish by the end of the year with construction starting next spring.