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Still much to complete on downtown Macomb improvement project

Square Construction.jpg
Rich Egger
Tri States Public Radio
Construction crews working on the east side of Macomb's courthouse square in September, 2021. The city expected contractors to complete the downtown revitalization project last fall but it's not even half done.

Work will resume this spring on Macomb’s downtown revitalization project. The city said there is much to be done.

“We’re not quite halfway through this project,” said Mayor Mike Inman, who is disappointed with last year’s slow pace.

“I’m like many other folks in the town, including folks on the council, who think this project should be much further along – it should have been done. It should have been done last fall. That’s what we were told. That’s what we were counting on. And we’re going to do our due diligence in making sure that the contractor is held to account and that we’re getting the product that we signed off on to get and that it’s done as quickly as possible.”

Construction crews with McCarthy Improvement Company of Davenport, Iowa, have yet to start on the north and south sides of the courthouse square.

And Inman said they have not quite finished work on the east and west sides. For example, the new windowpane-style sidewalks still need to be installed in the 200 block of East Jackson Street, and he said the front door at the Western Illinois Regional Council office on West Jackson cannot be opened because the new sidewalk there is heaving.

“It’s not unlike having a home improvement project where, as things come to an end, the minute details are what you want to make sure are done correctly. And with a project of this size and scope and cost, we want to make sure we’re getting what we paid for,” said Inman.

The mayor said there are ongoing discussions between city, the Illinois Department of Transportation, and the contractor about what delays might have been unavoidable – such as weather-related delays -- and which ones could have been avoided.

The state is involved because the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) awarded the city nearly $1.3 million for the project.

The city is picking up the rest of the cost.

McCarthy won the project by submitting the low bid of around $2.4 million. The work includes:

  • New sidewalks, curbs, and gutters
  • Landscaping (including new trees and planting areas)
  • New benches, trash receptacles, and bike racks
  • Lighting
  • Milling/resurfacing of the parking lanes on Jackson, Randolph, and Lafayette streets in and around the Courthouse Square

This is the second and final phase of Macomb’s downtown revitalization program.
The city completed Phase One in 2017. As part of that phase, the city:

  • Repaved the streets around the square
  • Freshly painted parking spots, crosswalks, and directional arrows
  • Installed stop signs
  • Built new medians
  • Improved the storm sewer system

Macomb also applied for a state grant to help pay for Phase One, but the state rejected the application so the city completed the nearly $1.5 million project with money from its infrastructure sales tax.
Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.