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Morton Grove, Skokie, Niles move ahead on design for biking, walking path

Monday, September 30, 2019
Chicago Tribune
by Daniel Dorfman

Morton Grove trustees have taken a step toward the construction of a proposed sidewalk and bicycle path connecting Skokie, Niles and Morton Grove, but village officials are still working on how to finance the construction of the estimated $2.4 million initiative.

At their September 23 meeting, Morton Grove trustees unanimously passed an intergovernmental agreement with Niles and Skokie for the “Oakton Street/Caldwell Avenue Sidewalk Connectivity Project” with a goal of creating enhanced walking and bicycling paths along a portion of Oakton Avenue that stretches over the three communities.

While Morton Grove will serve as the lead agency, the agreement will set up responsibilities for the three communities for preliminary and design engineering that has an estimated cost of just over $164,000. Cook County has agreed to provide $90,000 to offset some of those costs and Morton Grove is set to be reimbursed nearly $50,000 by Niles and Skokie, according to Morton Grove Village Administrator Ralph Czerwinski.

“It would be on an ongoing basis that we would be reimbursed,” Czerwinski said.

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The design work is a required part of the process and has to be completed to determine where easements are necessary. It will also determine the level of construction required, which will help engineers develop an estimate for the cost of the project, Czerwinski noted. Once that is done, it will help Morton Grove in applications for grant funding.

However, Czerwinski noted the estimated cost of the project is $2.4 million.

“It is going to be pretty expensive,” Czerwinski said.

Morton Grove has applied for a federal grant for $1.76 million to be administered by the local Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Czerwinski said the village anticipates receiving those funds.

A CMAP spokeswoman said the decision is still pending and the final notification would come in November.

As for the balance of the remaining construction costs, Czerwinski said there is an ongoing search for grant dollars.

Despite the cost, he maintains the project would be a worthwhile venture.

“The end result is going to help the community for decades so we think it is a good cooperative situation,” Czerwinski said.



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