Wilmette, News

So far, so good for Wilmette’s massive downtown construction project

Winter is rarely a respite for Chicagoans, but for many who drive through downtown Wilmette, it will be in one regard.

The Village’s downtown streetscape renovation will break for the winter on Dec. 15, leaving no closures or detours for a three-month stretch if all goes as planned, according to an update from village engineer Dan Manis given Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the Village Board meeting.

Manis reported the Central Avenue and Downtown Streetscape Project is more than two months into a 14-month timeline but is on time and on budget to take a seasonal break in about six weeks and conclude by the fall of 2021.

The project consists of an overhaul of downtown Wilmette’s infrastructure and aesthetics, as well as construction into the residential area from 11th Street to Sheridan Road.

The major work has expectedly caused disruption to everything from traffic to business. Wilmette trustee Gina Kennedy, however, said at the meeting that she spoke to multiple residents who live in the area and had a message for Manis.

“Tell the team, I think they are doing a great job,” she told him. “I reached out to several residents to get feedback. Overall … felt very pleased with the work being done and how sensitive the workers are being to the disruption. If there is something more significant, they are going door to door and making (residents) aware of it. The small things are making a difference to residents.”

After a series of government meetings, public hearings and open houses, the capital-improvement project was approved in 2019 for a cost of about $2 million, 80 percent of which is funded by grants, according to village documents.

A project rendering looking east down Central Avenue from Wilmette Avenue. | Provided by Village of Wilmette

Work began — under a list of efforts to mitigate the construction impacts to both businesses and residents — the first week of September.

Since then, workers have completed most of the watermain installation and transfers on Central Avenue, installed temporary traffic lights at Central and Wilmette avenues, and begun a variety of tasks, from stormsewer work to road patching.

Still yet to do before the winter break is: pavement installation on the north side of Central Avenue, curb and pavement work on the south side of the street, and storm sewer work in the residential area (11th Street to Sheridan Road). 

The temporarily halt to the construction will begin Dec. 15, but that day, as well as the day work resumes in March, are dependent on the weather, Manis said.

If all goes as planned, village workers will focus on Wilmette Avenue in the spring.

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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