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Macomb Prepping for Next Phase of Downtown Improvements

Rich Egger
“I think you can walk around the square and pretty easily pick up on some issues that we probably need to address,” said Mayor Mike Inman about the condition of the sidewalks on the square.";s:

Macomb re-did the streets around the courthouse during Phase 1 of the Downtown Square Streetscape project. The city is now laying the groundwork for Phase 2.

Aldermen agreed to hire Illinois-based Hutchison Engineering to design the project.  The company will be paid $50,000.

Mayor Mike Inman said Phase Two involves replacing (but not widening) the sidewalks around the courthouse square. It also includes some lighting improvements and a few decorative enhancements.

“That’s been our plan from the beginning – to make the square more safe, more pedestrian friendly, more aesthetically pleasing,” said Inman.

Construction is scheduled to begin in spring, 2020.

The estimated cost of Phase 2 is $2 million. Half will come from the federal government through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The rest will be paid for with city sales tax revenue.

Credit Courtesy of Chad Sperry
A drone’s-eye view of downtown Macomb after the completion of Phase 1

Inman said the project will ensure the walkways align with the street surface.

“We will be doing some selective and very limited removal of (street) pavement to align the sidewalk grade with the pavement grade, not only to ensure proper drainage but to ensure proper height of the sidewalk for vehicle bumpers and things like that,” Inman said.

“So I hope that as people see us coming in and removing what is fairly new pavement, that they understand that was part of the design from the beginning. We intended to do that.”

He said the street needed to be repaved two years ago – with or without grant funding assistance -- and there was no guarantee at that time that the city would receive grant funding to help pay for the sidewalks.

Credit Rich Egger
Macomb Mayor Mike Inman

The state rejected the city’s application for ITEP funding for Phase 1, which was paid for entirely with local sales tax dollars. In addition to the street resurfacing, the city freshly painted parking spots, crosswalks, and directional arrows during the $1.5 million first phase, and it installed decorative islands on the square’s corners.

“Every time I drive around the square and see those four large planting beds on each of the four corners that also are enhanced by some sculptures, I think it sends a real positive signal about development downtown, about the sustainability of our downtown as a walkable, accessible place,” Inman said.

“They just look outstanding.”

Inman said a third phase is possible.  It would improve the sidewalks on Lafayette and Randolph Streets heading north from the square.

“(They) would intersect with the transit facility, the train station. (And) that would then connect us to that other improvement we made here several years ago on West Adams Street -- the pedestrian and bicycle paths we developed as part of that improvement in the former alleyway behind what is now Forgottonia Brewing,” Inman said.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.