Arlington Heights trustees like plan to make south corridor more walkable

Arlington Heights trustees Monday gave their endorsement to a plan aimed at revitalizing the southern entrance to town by improving the area's walkability, aesthetics and zoning restrictions.

The village's 50-page South Arlington Heights Road Corridor Plan recommends a host of improvements — from installing landscaped medians, to relocating sidewalks 8-10 feet away from curbs — as part of an effort to give the auto-oriented thoroughfare what officials called a “road diet.”

The plan covers an area along Arlington Heights Road roughly between the Jane Addams Tollway and just north of Golf Road.

Their plans were developed after a meeting two years ago with operators of the seven hotels in the area, when many expressed a desire for better walkability for hotel guests, more dining and entertainment options they could visit, and improved curb appeal and brand identity.

One famous hotel guest — actor Kevin Bacon — was even referenced during the village board discussion on Monday as someone who might appreciate the pedestrian-friendly upgrades.

Bacon, who has stayed in town while performing with his Bacon Brothers band at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, likes visiting the Mitsuwa Japanese grocery store for lunch, but without a car, has said he runs across Arlington Heights Road to get there, according to Village Manager Randy Recklaus.

Bacon has told hotel staff he “wishes there was an easier way” to get there, Recklaus said.

Celebrities aside, making the area easier to walk was a familiar refrain by trustees Monday night. Though not a part of the written plan, Trustees Thomas Glasgow, Richard Baldino and Mike Sidor on Monday even suggested installing a pedestrian bridge over Arlington Heights Road.

For now, the plan suggests installing medians in place of center dual turn lanes and one of two left-hand turn lanes, helping to calm traffic on the nine-lane thoroughfare. It also proposes 12-foot-wide crosswalks with stamped, colorized concrete at the major intersections, and installing a new traffic signal on Arlington Heights Road north of Algonquin Road.

Officials also say they plan to make zoning rules less restrictive — particularly on the east side of Arlington Heights Road, where three developers are suggesting various residential and commercial uses.

Public improvements are estimated to cost up to $2 million plus consultants fees — which could be funded through general village funds, tax increment financing, or a special service area funded by property owners that they would have to approve. Another $2.5 million to $5 million is estimated to bury utility lines.

Arlington Heights trustees to review vision for southern gateway

A rendering shows a proposed traffic signal on Arlington Heights Road north of Algonquin Road, marked crosswalks and landscaped medians - part of village officials' vision for the corridor. Courtesy of Village of Arlington Heights
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