If Bears' plan means widening Wilke, don't expect money from Rolling Meadows, alderman says

Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows are sharing the local costs of a $4.5 million resurfacing of Wilke Road and other improvements along the thoroughfare.

But if the road needs to be widened for a proposed Chicago Bears stadium, count Rolling Meadows out for now, one city alderman says.

"We're sharing in the costs of this project, and in a month or two or a year or two somebody decides that (widening) needs to be part of this deal, I'm not looking to share in those costs necessarily until there's an agreement in place for sharing in the profits as well," said Alderman Nick Budmats during the city council meeting Tuesday night.

City Manager Rob Sabo said the current cost-sharing arrangement is allocated based on what portions of Wilke run through each town. The segment north of Euclid Avenue at the existing east side entrance to Arlington Park is wholly within Arlington Heights.

If that part of Wilke were to be widened or an additional proposal made to the current project, the added expense would be on Arlington Heights, Sabo said.

For now, the neighboring towns have agreed to a deal that has Arlington Heights covering 81.2% of the cost and Rolling Meadows taking on 18.8%. The Rolling Meadows council approved an updated intergovernmental agreement Tuesday and the Arlington Heights village board passed it last week.

The votes came amid ongoing debate over pending Bears legislation in Springfield. Rolling Meadows Mayor Lara Sanoica and Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz wrote a letter to state lawmakers stating they have "significant concerns" about how revenues would be allocated from the NFL franchise's proposed Arlington Park redevelopment just across their borders. They said state Rep. Marty Moylan's proposal to give their towns 14% cuts of revenues from sales, hotel, liquor and sports wagering taxes at the Bears site to help pay for costs is premature in the absence of an infrastructure and traffic study.

For now, a 12,400-foot stretch of the aging Wilke thoroughfare will be resurfaced - from just north of Algonquin Road to just south of the train tracks and Northwest Highway.

While the four-lane road won't be expanded, a concrete multiuse path will be extended between Bray Court and Orchard Place along Wilke's east parkway in Arlington Heights. Upgrades will also include new pedestrian signal heads, countdown timers and accessible ramps.

The new cost-share breakdown for final-phase engineering and construction costs is actually a slight adjustment in Rolling Meadows' favor. After the phase one design last year, officials from both towns agreed the city's portion should be reduced by about 2% once engineers more closely examined the bike path portion, concrete apron removal, full depth patch locations and other miscellaneous details.

In total, Arlington Heights will be responsible for an estimated $1.9 million in construction costs, and about $446,000 for Rolling Meadows. They're also sharing the phase three construction engineering cost of $213,710 based on the set percentages.

In October 2021, just as the Bears got the old racetrack property under contract, the Northwest Council of Mayors was able to secure a federal Surface Transportation Program earmark of nearly $2.4 million for construction and project design.

The project is set to go to bid in September, and be complete by the end of 2024.

If Bears come, improved Wilke Road will help fans get to their new stadium

Rolling Meadows, Palatine mayors fear Bears-related costs will be passed to their towns

Nick Budmats
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