Village Paves Way for Forest Boulevard Revamp

Forest Boulevard south of Lakewood Boulevard
The light at Forest Boulevard and Lakewood Boulevard will likely be eliminated during the revamp of Forest Blvd. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Forest Boulevard is finally on its way to a long-needed revamp. The Village began paving the way in August when the board passed Phase I of the engineering services that will eventually see the choppy thoroughfare re-engineered from Indianwood Boulevard north to Western Avenue.

The final destination remains a multi-year journey, however.

Phase I Engineering Services will be conducted by V3 Companies LTD of Woodridge, Illinois. Mr. Peter Reinhofer of V3 Companies presented at the August 12 board meeting and spoke with eNews Park Forest afterward.

This is the first time Park Forest will contract with V3, a company that has been around “for about 35 years,” according to Mr. Reinhofer. Phase I, which will take 12-18 months, will be paid for, in part, by a 70% grant. According to Mayor Vanderbilt, V3 Companies assisted the Village in attaining that grant. The total cost of Phase I is $326,606 (budgeted amount). Of that, the Village will pay $97,381.80, and an Invest in Cook County grant will pay $227,224.20.

“This agreement will be funded 100% by the Village’s General Fund where $360,000 is budgeted and then reimbursed 70% through the Invest in Cook Grant Program,” according to the agenda briefing submitted by Director of Public Works/Village Engineer Roderick Ysaguirre.

Mr. Reinhofer said Phase II of the project will be “final design — that can take anywhere from 12-24 months.” After the second phase, the project is considered “shovel-ready” and the Village can open the door for bids on whatever improvements are decided on by that point. “Construction can take one to two years,” according to Mr. Reinhofer.

Director Ysaguirre said the Village will seek grants for Phase II as well.

“Part of the scope [of Phase I] is they’ll give us an estimate of cost,” Mr. Ysaguirre said, “and with that information, we’ll be able to apply, knowing what kind of a ‘dollar range’ we’re looking for.”

Director of Public Works/Village Engineer Roderick Ysaguirre
Director of Public Works/Village Engineer Roderick Ysaguirre at the August 19, 2019, board meeting where Phase I was voted on and passed. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Forest Boulevard will be re-thought, re-imagined, from the ground up. Part of the scope of services for Phase I includes a road diet, “also called a lane reduction or road re-channelization,” [source], similar to what the Village did with Orchard Drive, reducing lanes from two north-south lanes to one each north-south lane, “and you made room for the bike lanes on the outside,” Director Ysaguirre said, “and you made room for that bi-directional left-turn lane in the middle.”

“In this case,” Director Ysaguirre continued, referring to Forest Boulevard, “the cross-section is so wide, based on the traffic counts, it is anticipated that it might not necessitate that wide of a pavement. If you remember, that used to be part of the old mall. But, now, that’s not the case anymore. If the pavement doesn’t have to be that wide, then we would actually decrease the width of that and give the green space back to the Village. So, you’ll have more grassy area, more area for trees and plants because the [current] pavement just doesn’t warrant the count.”

Part of Phase I will involve taking core samples of Forest Boulevard, Director Ysaguirre said. “They’ll take a look at the sub-soil conditions and then basically decide, can we get away with resurfacing, or do we really have to reconstruct the road because it’s in that bad of shape?”

Phase I, then, is the study phase.

The proposed work includes eliminating the traffic lights at Lakewood Boulevard and Forest Boulevard, possibly replacing the lights with a roundabout, if space permits, Director Ysaguirre said.

According to Director Ysaguirre’s agenda briefing, “Services [for Phase I] include, but are not limited to, preliminary engineering, environmental studies, data collection, traffic studies, intersection studies, soil investigation, field evaluation and topo surveys, interagency coordination meetings, drainage studies, estimates of cost, project development report, and other items as outlined in the attached Appendix A of Agreement.”

“The planned improvements at this time are to road diet the cross-section and restore green space, resurface or reconstruction the roadway, full curb and gutter replacement, improvements to geometry at Park Street at Norwood Blvd., as well as Norwood Blvd. at Westwood Blvd., install an off-street multi-use path, removal of traffic signals at Lakewood Blvd., and replacement with a roundabout or similar facility, provide on-street parking, sidewalk improvements, turning movement improvements, and other related work,” Director Ysaguirre’s agenda briefing continues.