Naperville will borrow $17.3 million during the next 20 years to help fund projects such as a compressed natural gas fueling station, LED bulbs for streetlights across the city and electric vehicle charging stations for downtown visitors.
The borrowing will complete $300 million the city needs for a variety of infrastructure projects in its five-year capital plan and will pay for improvements that otherwise did not have a designated funding source.
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Among the facilities to be funded by the loan is the station designed to fill 380 city vehicles with a fuel that emits fewer greenhouse gases and costs less than gasoline. The city is seeking funding from the state to help build the station at Jefferson Avenue and Fort Hill Drive. Construction is expected to cost $2.1 million.
The loan also will help fund the installation of LED bulbs in streetlights across the city at a cost of $5.35 million during the last two years of the five-year plan. The addition of more fueling stations for electric vehicles also will tap into $30,000 of the borrowed funds.
While loan funds will go toward these projects and more that otherwise lacked funding, the capital improvements plan also spells out work that will improve traffic flow and help reshape the south side of the downtown, City Manager Doug Krieger said.
The city plans to improve traffic on Washington Street by replacing three separate traffic management systems with one integrated system to set the most efficient signal timings and keep cars moving. The capital improvements plan allocates $800,000 for a two-year conversion from the three old systems to the new one, adding to $100,000 already spent and $2.8 million in federal grants.
Eventually, Krieger said, drivers will be able to access traffic data for Washington Street online to determine if the road is congested.
The city also will contribute $12 million toward construction of a parking garage with at least 400 spaces and a new segment of the Riverwalk in the Water Street District south of the DuPage River between Main and Webster Streets. Developer Marquette Companies of Naperville is expected to break ground on the $90 million mixed-use center with a hotel, restaurants, boutiques and offices late this spring.
The new Riverwalk path will extend between the covered bridge and Main Street and will connect with steps and a plaza to the Hotel Indigo that will anchor the new district. Krieger said the new garage will help meet increasing demand for downtown parking and offset the effect of plans to reconstruct the Chicago Avenue parking deck in the coming years.
The $17.3 million the city will borrow is less than the $22 million originally projected. Council members chose to put off some projects to decrease the amount of new debt incurred.
The city plans to structure the $17.3 million loan so it cannot be paid back until at least 10 years have passed, as this has helped secure better interest rates in the past, Finance Director Karen DeAngelis said. The city balances its operating budget with revenue it receives each year, she said, but often chooses to borrow for infrastructure projects so the cost of the work can be paid off as the improved facilities are used.