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Local

Batavia committee asks to push back Houston Street work

BATAVIA – As work winds down on the North River Street streetscape project, aldermen Monday recommended pushing ahead with streetscape improvements for Wilson Street while delaying Houston Street’s streetscape project.

The Houston Street project already had been put on hold until early next year. City officials now have recommended putting off the project until 2014 for several reasons, including that the city already has received a $1.5 million Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant for the Wilson Street streetscape project, plus $656,000 in state funds to improve and modernize the traffic signals on Wilson Street in the downtown.

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke had voiced concerns the city could lose the funding if it doesn’t use it. The issue was discussed Monday at the City Council’s Community Development Committee meeting.

Aldermen recommended the Wilson Street streetscape project begin next year in conjunction with the Wilson Street traffic signal improvements, which already have begun. The entire project is estimated to cost $4 million.

“Staff believes, due to the uncertainties that are inherent in every major project, it is unrealistic to do two of them during the same construction season,” City Administrator Bill McGrath said in a memo.

North River Street is being transformed into a curbless street in which pedestrians have priority over cars as part of a city project. The work, which is nearing completion, started in spring.

Batavia 2nd Ward Alderman Alan Wolff said he was pleased with the North River Street improvements.

“You stand in the middle of the street, and it looks so much bigger,” Wolff said. “The improvements make it more open and inviting.”

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