Bike and pedestrian upgrades coming to Broadway Avenue

Residents can expect more accessible pedestrian intersections, bike facilities, and bus shelters.

A file photo of Broadway Avenue, as shown on October 17, 2021. HWH / Amethyst J. Davis
A file photo of Broadway Avenue, as shown on October 17, 2021. HWH / Amethyst J. Davis

Transit improvements are coming to a major thoroughfare in the downtown area.

The Regional Transit Authority, which provides financial oversight of Metra, Pace, and the Chicago Transit Authority, awarded Harvey $55,000 for bike and pedestrian improvements along Broadway Avenue.

Improvements will include bus shelters, more accessible pedestrian intersections, and new roadway bike facilities.

The Access to Transit program provides funding to municipalities to assist with engineering and construction costs associated with small-scale capital projects. That could look like filling sidewalk gaps or bicycle-covered parking that improve transit access.

Applications opened in March and were due in May. Ten cities across Cook and McHenry Counties were awarded Access money.

Harvey officials will apply the funds toward Phase I engineering, which is an environmental impact study. Studies include reviewing nearby land use and impacts to traffic or the natural environment.

The second phase is the actual design component, determining what materials are needed, the construction plan, and costs. So, it’ll likely be a few years before residents see the final results, according to an RTA spokesperson.

When the Access program launched in 2012, funding was only reserved for Phase II, meaning municipalities had to finance Phase I costs. For some communities like Harvard, which also received funding, that proved to be a challenge.

“Since 2018, we’d been talking back and forth with CMAP and the RTA about how it’s unfair for smaller communities to compete for this money if Phase I engineering wasn’t on the table,” said City of Harvard Administrator David Nelson about the funding in an RTA blog post in March. “The funding for Phase I was very helpful to allow us to compete now for construction dollars. It really allows these smaller communities to get in the game.”

Beginning in 2020, RTA now offers the“Category B” option, exclusively for communities with lower tax bases or median incomes, to provide help with phase I engineering. The Broadway Avenue improvements are Category B.

Only six of the ten projects will be selected for phase II funding next year, assuming the RTA obtains federal funding.

Harvey will be eligible to apply for additional Access funding for phase II at that time, according to an RTA spokesperson.

The Access program has funded 37 projects totaling $22.5 million in RTA, local, and federal dollars to date.

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