Winfield residents will see plenty of orange over the next few months as the village pursues its most extensive road repair program in years.
More than one-third of the town's roads will be fixed as part of the multimillion-dollar program, which began last week with crews starting to resurface neighborhood streets. That work, estimated to cost $4 million, is scheduled to be completed by mid-August.
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In addition, Winfield has received more than $1 million in grant money to resurface older sections of major roads in town. As a result, the Illinois Department of Transportation will coordinate the repair of those roads, including Pleasant Hill Road, Jewell/High Lake Road and the northern stretch of Winfield Road. The major road projects are expected to start by midsummer.
All the roadwork is possible because the village board decided in November to borrow up to $4.4 million to fix the town's worst streets.
"I'm very pleased that the Winfield board has taken on one of the biggest challenges for the village in the last decade or two and found a cost-effective solution," Village President Erik Spande said. "When you see the amount of work going on through the village, there's signs up all over the place."
Fixing the roads with borrowed money is estimated to cost the owner of a $235,000 home -- the average value of a house in Winfield -- an additional $49 in property taxes to the village during the first year.
But with nearly 30 percent of Winfield's 35 miles of roads rated in poor to failing condition, officials say, the village couldn't afford to ignore the problem.
Failing roads that aren't resurfaced in time, officials say, must be reconstructed at a cost that's up to four times more. They said delaying Winfield's road repairs would have increased the total price tag for the work by $1 million a year.
"We're being very prudent and saving the taxpayers money in the long-term," Spande said. "That's what Winfield needs to do: Look at problems in the eye and get a good solution."
As it stands now, about 12.5 miles of streets will be repaired.
Officials said the work on the neighborhood streets begins with repairs to curbs, sidewalks and ditches. Then the streets are resurfaced.
Spande said the contractor hired to do the neighborhood streets -- J.A. Johnson Paving Co. of Arlington Heights -- is getting a lot of work done quickly.
"I think our citizens will see results in very short order," he said. "We've just got to manage the mess in the meantime. Long-term, it's going to be a huge benefit to everybody."
According to the village, almost every household in Winfield will be on or adjacent a road scheduled for repairs.
Notices already have been sent to homeowners on streets slated for repair. In addition, the village has posted a map on its website at villageofwinfield.com showing the roadwork schedule for the coming week. The map will be updated each Friday.
Now that there will be a smoother ride on many Winfield roads, officials will have to figure out how to keep it that way. That's because ongoing maintenance still is an issue.
Spande said progress has been made in that area, thanks to Winfield voters twice approving quarter-cent increases in the village's sales tax to help pay for road repairs.
Most recently, voters approved a ballot question that boosted the sales tax to 7.75 percent. It's estimated that every quarter-cent increase generates about $75,000 annually. Meanwhile, the village uses about $250,000 from the motor fuel tax and about $100,000 to $200,000 from its budget to repair roads each year.
"Our next main task is finding the funding to take care of the year-to-year maintenance," Spande said. "That involves thoughtful redevelopment and being fiscally prudent as we move forward."