Northfield, News

Northfield hopes to add its own touch to renovated Winnetka Road overpass

With planning for a major bridge project underway, Northfield trustees expressed an interest on Tuesday in seeing what opportunities are available to personalize the bridge with village branding.

The Northfield Village Board discussed a potential design agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation at its Tuesday, May 21 committee of the whole meeting regarding enhancements to the Winnetka Road Bridge.

Village Manager Patrick Brennan told trustees that IDOT is planning on raising the bridge, which covers Interstate 94, by 2 feet.

“It, as I understand, is the lowest overhead crossing on I-94 going to Chicago, and it’s been struck a few times, so they’d like to raise that bridge deck,” he said.

While the work on the bridge isn’t expected to begin until 2027, Brennan said “it presents an opportunity, potentially, for the Village to coordinate with IDOT and this project, saying we would like to have some enhancements to that work to help that blend in more visually to the community.”

According to a Village memo, IDOT is finalizing its plans for the first phase of the bridge project and has requested that the Village “provide the plans, specifications, and cost material as soon as possible.”

Brennan added that the Village would be responsible for the cost for any enhancements and future maintenance costs “above (IDOT’s) standard features.”

Two design firms — Teska Associates and Hitchcock Design Group — submitted bids for any potential work. Brennan recommended Hitchcock’s bid of $27,250, which is $2,450 higher than Teska’s, because he believes the firm’s experience with IDOT will help inform the village which of its ideas for the bridge could be more achievable.

Village President Greg Lungmus voiced support for both Hitchcock and the design work.

He and other trustees expressed interest in putting a sign on the bridge indicating that drivers along the highway are passing through Northfield.

“I’m envisioning something possibly recessed into the concrete that has our Village of Northfield and our characteristic ‘N,’” Lungmus said. “Or, as you’ve probably seen in other communities … writing on the bridge span itself ‘Village of Northfield,’ and then ‘Winnetka Road.’”

Trustee Barnaby Dinges also voiced support for a sign on the bridge, calling it “a great differentiator for Northfield.”

He also suggested placing the sign only above the northbound lanes on the highway, noting that not only would a sign tell motorists that they are passing Northfield, but that the Willow Road exit is just beyond the bridge.

“I think we could really do something in terms of our Village identity,” Dinges said. “We’re unique; we have Willow Road cutting through us, we have the Edens, and I think this board would have some interesting conversations about what it’s going to look like.”

Trustee Tracey Mendrek also voiced support for pursuing the design agreement, but also said that IDOT has rules about what can and can’t go on bridges.

“I don’t know how much creativity we’d be able to bring to the project, but we can certainly try,” she said, while also noting she supports bringing on Hitchcock to handle the design work.

Brennan also noted that if the board determines at a future date that the cost of enhancements is too high, they can inform IDOT after the first phase that they’ve decided not to go forward and the Village would not have to continue with the additional enhancements.

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Peter Kaspari

Peter Kaspari is a blogger and a freelance reporter. A 10-year veteran of journalism, he has written for newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois, including spending multiple years covering crime and courts. Most recently, he served as the editor for The Lake Forest Leader. Peter is also a longtime resident of Wilmette and New Trier High School alumnus.

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