Washington Mayor Gary Manier wants to 'continue to push this city forward' with new council
Washington Mayor Gary Manier is looking forward to a busy back half of 2023, with a number of major projects set to start or already underway and a city council full of new members.
The most notable of these projects: a $6 million realignment of the intersection at Nofsinger Road and U.S. 24. Manier said the project is funded through a combination of federal and state community development grants.
“We missed the April (IDOT) letting because of the time that the money was allocated to us from the federal government and also the state grant from the governor,” said Manier. “It’ll go out in August for bid and you should see some dirt moving probably at the end of September, first of October will probably be the earliest that will happen.”
The realignment creates opportunities for further development on Highway 24, but, most importantly, it improves the intersection known for car accidents.
“So with the new realignment, we'll have traffic lights there,” said Manier. “And it'll be a square intersection, and hopefully a lot safer.”
The realignment is one of several road construction projects planned for Washington’s near future. The city council also recently voted to approve a joint funding agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation to expand Freedom Parkway and connect it with Cummings Lane.
“It should open that corridor, either to more business or light industry,” said Manier. “So we're excited about getting that done. That should start here within a couple of months.”
Long term, Manier also wants to give more attention to Business 24, a stretch of road covering Legion Road to Lynn Street. He said a mill and overlay project is on the way for the potholes, but it needs more extensive construction.
“The other thing we're hoping for is, you know, they keep pushing back our Business 24, you know, the $53 million that was allocated in the 2019 (Rebuild Illinois) capital bill,” said Manier. “Now they're looking at '28 or '29, before they really get some construction started, and that road’s not gonna make it much longer.”
However, street construction isn’t the only thing happening in Washington.
Manier said theanticipated brewpub project from developers CLRED in Washington’s main square is moving along after completing a historic review in March and adapting to rising construction costs.
“When they first started to talk about the project, they had no idea that it was a, you know, five to six million dollar project now it's probably going to be an eight to nine million dollar project,” said Manier. “So they had to make some changes and adjustments to make sure that they can pay the bills after they build it.”
One project still searching for a path forward is the redevelopment of the Lincoln Grade School. Citing infrastructure issues, Washington District 52 officials proposed a referendum to close the old building and build a new one attached to Washington Middle School, with an accompanying tax rate increase.
The referendum failed in the April election, but Manier said issues at the grade school will likely require another attempt to fix, whether it’s through renovations or a new building.
“Well, I think ADA accessibility is first and foremost. Obviously it's an older building. And it's pretty segmented,” said Manier. “How do you get to certain levels if you're in a wheelchair, or handicapped in any way? So I think they do still have to continue to do that. And hopefully, maybe we'll have another referendum in the fall and can pass it.”
With so many projects underway and on the horizon, Manier is looking forward to a productive rest of the year with new community leadership on the city council.
Three of the five members sworn in at the May meeting are newly-elected.
“I would just encourage them. And I know a couple of other long-seated alderpersons who have been encouraging them to say, you know, make sure you don't vote with an agenda,” said Manier. “Come in with an open mind. And we just need to try to continue to push this city forward.”