If the Bears come to Arlington Park, improved Wilke Road will help fans get there

Whether or not the Chicago Bears finalize the deal to buy Arlington Park, the two towns sure to be most affected by gameday traffic are making preparations to resurface a major thoroughfare to get fans to and from the potential stadium site.

Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows are sharing the engineering study costs for a proposed resurfacing of Wilke Road, from just north of Algonquin Road to just south of the train tracks and Northwest Highway - right at the east side entrance of the shuttered racetrack's parking lots.

There are no plans under the current project to add to the existing four lanes, but it does call for extension of a concrete multiuse path that would fill a gap along Wilke's east parkway, from Bray Court to Orchard Place. That's where new sidewalk would connect to the existing off-street path at the southern edge of Sunset Meadows Park in Arlington Heights.

Upgrades also will include new pedestrian signal heads, countdown timers and accessible ramps.

The resurfacing has been listed in capital improvement plans for years, but it wasn't approved for federal funding until last October. That was right after the final race at Arlington Park and the announced $197.2 million pending sale of the 326-acre property from owner Churchill Downs Inc. to the Bears.

The estimated $3.13 million street resurfacing project has been earmarked for $2.36 million in federal Surface Transportation Program funds, which can pay for phase two plan preparation and phase three construction and construction engineering.

But the phase one design engineering costs aren't eligible for federal funding, so Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows are picking those up. Of the $93,568 contract awarded to Rosemont-based Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Arlington Heights will cover 79.6% of it and Rolling Meadows is responsible for the remaining 20.4%, under terms of an intergovernmental agreement approved by the village board and city council last month. That's based on the proportion of the 12,400-foot stretch of roadway in each municipality.

Arlington Heights is the lead agency on the project and will front the initial payments, but the village will be partially reimbursed by Rolling Meadows.

As part of its work, Burke will conduct a topographic survey, environmental review, roadway lighting assessment and intersection design study before putting together preliminary plans.

The neighboring towns are also partnering in a $4.5 million upgrade of the intersection of Algonquin and New Wilke. That project, which is set to receive $3.5 million in federal funds, is now in phase two design engineering.

Towns teaming up to reduce congestion at Algonquin, New Wilke roads

$4.5 million revamp of Algonquin, New Wilke intersection enters next phase

A stretch of Wilke Road, including a portion near Gateway Park in Rolling Meadows, is scheduled for resurfacing. Daily Herald File Photo 2013
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