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Macomb Scales Back Plans to Improve Downtown

Emily Boyer
Downtown Macomb

Macomb's $4.3-million plan for improving the downtown square hinged on the city securing an Illinois Department of Transportation grant to fund about half the project. But the state money is not coming through, so city leaders are considering their options.

The city's plan includes resurfacing roads; improving curbs, gutters and sidewalks; and adding streetscaping and new lights.

Jim Burke with Hutchison Engineering developed and helped submit the project to the IDOT for review. He said the agency did not offer any feedback on the city's submission, but he said it appears the funding primarily went to multi-module projects, as in those with bike paths, walk ways and roads.

Burke said the lack of state funding does not change the fact that the downtown roadway need to be re-paved. He is currently helping the city draft a short-term fix.

Mayor Mike Inman said the scaled back plan would include the use of city money to pay for paving the downtown square and a block in each direction along west and east Jackson St., north and south Lafayette St., and north and south Randolph St.

He said the city would also go ahead and add new corner islands and re-paint the streets, making it more pedestrian-friendly and easier for cars to determine who has the right of way.

“I think the mere improvement of the driving surface, roadways and corner islands will be significant,” Inman said. “In the grand scheme of things, not what we hoped, but improvements none the less.”

Inman said that some sidewalks considered trip and fall hazards would also be repaired in the area.

Further calculations still need to be done, but preliminary estimates put the cost of the work to the city at up to $1.5-million.

Even if these smaller projects get underway, Inman said the city will likely re-apply for the next round of IDOT funds to add in the streetscaping aspects and new lighting to the downtown.

It will be up to the Macomb City Council to review the scaled-back plan. If it is approved, Inman said construction work could begin in late spring.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.