The planned reconstruction of Meacham Road through Rolling Meadows may be a long way off, but the city already is moving ahead with a proposed bike path along the roadway.
The city council voted 5-2 Monday to seek grant funding for a path parallel to Meacham stretching between Algonquin Road and Emerson Avenue.
The preliminary cost estimate for engineering and constructing the path is $1.5 million. With 80 percent of that coming from federal grant assistance, along with local cost sharing with the Village of Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows' share is expected to be 10 percent, or $157,000.
Though city officials said the bike path would not be expected in the immediate future if the Meacham reconstruction plan is delayed or does not proceed, there is an Aug. 20 deadline to apply for the grant.
"If we didn't apply for grant funding for this project now, we don't know if or when grant monies might be available again for it," Director of Public Works Fred Vogt said.
The grant would come through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP), Vogt said.
Two council members, 4th Ward Alderman Brad Judd and 1st Ward Alderman Mike Cannon, voted against the application.
"We don't even know where this is actually going to end up," Judd said, adding he would rather wait until the road work takes place and "figure out what's going on with that."
Cannon said he was struck by the cost.
"The number we're using here just blows me away," he said. "We're talking about a bike path of a mile long maybe and we're talking about a million and a half dollars. That's huge. That's three years of our road construction program in our town. I know it's grant money but it's still tax money."
6th Ward Alderman John D'Astice backed the measure, but said he will oppose the overall Meacham Road project if residents living nearby continue to object.
"In the future, unless a majority of the residents come to us and say they want the roadwork done and they want this bike path and are willing (to show) their support, in the future I probably won't vote for it," he said.
Mayor Tom Rooney said he sees the grant application as a matter of keeping the door open.
"If a project happens, it makes perfect sense that there would be a path that goes along that corridor," he said. "We can pull the plug at any time.
"I think that if we didn't apply now and then later on put in the application, one open question that would be out there is, 'If this is so important, how come you guys didn't apply the first time?' So I think holding the door open is important," Rooney added.
State transportation officials are weighing proposals to widen the two-lane stretch of Meacham Road between Algonquin Road and Emerson Drive, an idea that's drawn strong opposition from Rolling Meadows residents living nearby.
City officials have proposed a compromise plan of a three-lane roadway, splitting the difference between the four- to five-lane roadway first suggested by the state and residents' preference that no expansion take place.