Des Plaines wants developer's help with infamous S-curve

Aldermen want developer to pay for pedestrian access study

  • Des Plaines officials will ask a developer of townhouses and apartments to help fund a study to examine the feasibility of a pedestrian underpass at the Northwest Highway S-curve.

      Des Plaines officials will ask a developer of townhouses and apartments to help fund a study to examine the feasibility of a pedestrian underpass at the Northwest Highway S-curve. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer, November 2015

 
 
Updated 3/23/2016 5:07 AM

Some Des Plaines aldermen want a developer to pay for all or part of a study aimed at improving pedestrian access at the city's infamous Northwest Highway S-curve.

Whether officials at Buckingham Properties, developer of townhouses and apartments at the old Littelfuse site, agree to the proposition remains to be seen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The $142,355 study would examine how a pedestrian underpass could be constructed below the Union Pacific/Canadian National Railway at Northwest Highway, where there's no sidewalk. The study also will present less costly alternatives to a tunnel, such as bridges over or around the tracks and nearby Weller Creek.

The pedestrian underpass is estimated to cost between $10 million and $15 million, and the city could be on the hook for $2 million to $3 million after receiving federal grants.

Supporters of the underpass, including the Des Plaines Bike & Pedestrian Advisory Committee, say it would remove a barrier for walkers and bicyclists who want to get downtown from the city's northwest side. And though pedestrian and bike access has been discussed for years, there's perhaps more urgency now, as construction of a $90 million residential development begins northwest of the S-curve at the former Littelfuse property, 800 E. Northwest Hwy.

That led Alderman Jim Brookman to suggest the city delay approval of the study until City Manager Mike Bartholomew asks Buckingham Properties to help fund it, since the developer's new residents would benefit most from the underpass. Brookman compared it to another private company, Mariano's, which is paying $670,000 for improvements to Blackhawk Park next to its new store at Golf and Mount Prospect roads.

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But Alderman Don Smith, whose 7th Ward includes the S-curve, said thousands of people already live in the Northwest Highway corridor, and they're not being asked to chip in for the study.

Buckingham President and CEO Chris Coleman didn't respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Aldermen voted 5-3 to delay a vote on the study until their April 4 meeting. During budget discussions in November, Mayor Matt Bogusz cast a tiebreaking vote to include funds in the budget for the study. Some aldermen have raised concerns about the potential cost of the improvements.

If approved, the study by engineering firm V3 Companies would be scheduled to be complete by September, and it could be another three years until improvements are made at the S-curve.

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