The RTA has selected ten projects for its Access to the Transit program, which provides funding to municipalities to complete engineering and construction for small-scale capital improvements, such as filling sidewalk gaps and installing covered bicycle parking, that improve pedestrian and bicycle connections to transit. This group of new projects will be the sixth group accepted to the Access to Transit program, which has funded 37 projects since the program began.
Six of the ten awards will fund Phase II Engineering and Construction and will be announced next year when the RTA learns if it has successfully obtained federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) funding. The remaining four projects will fund Phase I Engineering for future pedestrian and bike facility projects in transit areas. Phase I Engineering is frequently a challenge for communities of high need, so the RTA will fund 100 percent of the engineering costs, estimated at $208,000 total. Work on these projects can begin later this year.
“The RTA is thrilled to offer funding for Phase I Engineering to high-need communities for the second time,” said Michael Horsting, Manager, Local Planning, for the RTA. “This first step to building infrastructure that provides better access to transit can be prohibitively expensive for smaller communities throughout our region. All of the communities whose Phase I Engineering we fund this year will be able to apply for Phase II Engineering and Construction assistance during our next call for projects, so it opens the Access to Transit program to more municipalities.”
The RTA has awarded $53,628 to the Village of Ford Heights for improving the sidewalk network, adding concrete pads to select bus stops, and installing ADA-compliant crosswalks at key intersections surrounding the Pace Route 357. The bus route runs through the center of the village and forms a loop around the future 60-acre mixed-use New Town Center development. There are currently significant gaps in the sidewalk network that connects these surrounding areas with bus stops, and most crosswalks in the area are faded and are not ADA-compliant.
Currently, more than 50 percent of Ford Heights’ local roads lack sidewalks on either side of the road. This makes it challenging for transit users, especially seniors and people with disabilities, to safely access bus stops. The proposed improvements will enhance the real and perceived safety of accessing transit, which will encourage the community to ride.
Additionally, the village is working with partners to develop a mixed-use New Town Center that is surrounded by Pace Route 357. The development will generate more pedestrian foot traffic and provide opportunities for transit supportive development, including multi-family housing. The proposed sidewalk improvements and ADA-compliant intersections will ensure that users of the New Town Center development have adequate pedestrian infrastructure that safely connects them with transit.
“The Village is excited to work with the RTA and Pace Suburban Bus to implement sidewalk, bus shelter and intersection improvements,” said Ford Heights Mayor Charles Griffin. “These improvements will improve residents’ access to Pace Bus Route 357 by filling in sidewalk gaps and making intersections easier to navigate for people with mobility disadvantages. This project will not only improve transit access for current residents but will also support the Village’s effort to develop a walkable and transit-friendly New Town Center. We are grateful for the financial support made possible through the RTA’s Access to Transit program and plan to leverage this funding to secure additional public and private investment.”
The RTA has awarded $55,000 to the City of Harvard for pedestrian access improvements along Illinois Route 173 from Marengo Road to US Route 14, including new sidewalks, ADA crosswalks, and pedestrian access over Mokeler Creek. Currently, there are no sidewalks along Route 173, forcing pedestrians to walk on the shoulder. At the crossing of Mokeler Creek, pedestrians have to walk in the travel lanes of Route 173 to get over the creek.
The City of Harvard’s downtown area, including the Metra train station, is four blocks north of this improvement. Route 14 south is Harvard’s southern commercial district. This project will bridge those two areas. Pace Route 808, which runs between the cities of Crystal Lake, Woodstock and the City of Harvard, utilizes Ayer Street, Route 173 and Route 14 as its route through the City of Harvard. Extending the sidewalk system along Route 173 will provide increased access to these areas. Furthermore, this is the middle section of Harvard’s long-range plan to provide sidewalks all along this corridor.
“Without the help and access to the RTA program Access to Transit, the City of Harvard being a smaller community would not be able to compete with larger communities,” said Harvard City Administrator Dave Nelson. “The City of Harvard appreciates the RTA for looking out for smaller communities who may not possess the expertise to write grants in-house.”
The RTA has awarded $55,000 to the City of Harvey for improvements along Broadway Avenue in downtown Harvey. The project will include transit access improvements such as bus shelters, pedestrian improvements including ADA-compliant intersections, and new roadway bike facilities. These improvements will better provide for a multi-modal downtown Harvey and will connect the new Pace Harvey Transportation Center with Broadway Avenue.
The RTA has awarded $44,000 to the Village of Maywood for a covered bicycle shelter near the 5th Avenue Metra station served by the Union Pacific West line, heated bus shelters along 5th Avenue as served by Pace, wayfinding signage for the train station, and pavement marking improvements.
Pace Route 331 runs on 5th Avenue adjacent to the Metra station, and Pace Route 309 is located in close proximity along nearby Lake Street. The heated bus shelters will encourage ridership, and wayfinding and pavement marking improvements will offer a safer, more seamless experience for transit users.
Learn more about past Access to Transit projects on RTAMS, the RTA’s mapping and statistics website.