St. Charles to help fund fencing for resident affected by Red Gate Bridge
As construction of the Red Gate Bridge was wrapping up in 2012, nearby residents sought help from St. Charles to mitigate the potentially adverse effects of the new Fox River crossing.
Installing a wall along part of the Woods of Fox Glen neighborhood aimed to block the additional traffic, sound and safety hazards at the Route 25 intersection, Public Works Director Peter Suhr said. But the fencing -- costs for which were covered by the city -- stops before reaching a property belonging to James Martin Jones, who instead chose to plant 16 white spruce trees in his backyard.
Several years later, Jones now says conditions are worse than he anticipated, prompting his desire to extend the wall along his property line. The city council voted 6-1 Monday to pay for a portion of that project.
Jones acquired four bids for constructing a 228-foot linear screen wall, the lowest of which costs $27,395, documents show. St. Charles aldermen decided to cover $15,300 of those expenses, taking into account the investment the city has already made into the property.
In 2013, the city reimbursed Jones $12,700 for planting the white spruce trees to provide a visual barrier. Jones, in turn, agreed not to pursue litigation against the city regarding the new bridge, according to the deal.
That same year, St. Charles also reimbursed the neighborhood homeowner association roughly $76,000 for installing a 950-foot wall along adjacent properties.
In a note to the city, Jones said he has since realized that while the spruce trees will eventually grow enough to "block the visual effects," they will not adequately abate the noise of bridge traffic. The sound of vehicles braking and accelerating at the Route 25 and Red Gate Road traffic light, he said, has a "much greater impact than expected."
Those factors, as well as potential safety issues and the installation of an adjacent water tower, have hindered his ability to sell his property the last five years, Jones said in the letter. Extending the fencing, he said, is the most "equitable solution the city can provide."
Jones presented his case last month at a government services committee meeting, where he asked for an estimated $28,000 for the wall. Most aldermen supported deducting their 2013 reimbursement from that request and covering the remaining project costs.
Aldermen Rita Payleitner voted against the measure during the committee meeting, saying she worried the move would set a precedent. She was absent from Monday's city council meeting, where Alderman Ron Silkaitis cast the lone "no" vote. There was no discussion.
Jones plans to install about 114 feet of fencing along Route 25 and an equal length along the northern border of his property, Suhr said. The $15,300 reimbursement is expected to fully cover the Route 25 section, and then some.
Once the wall is installed, the city will have no responsibility for its future maintenance or replacement, as is the case with the fencing along neighboring properties, officials said.