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Construction crews preparing to start work changing traffic flow on major downtown Peoria streets

A look at Adams Street in downtown Peoria shows three lanes of northeast-bound traffic and two parking lanes. A $19 million project to turn Adams and Jefferson streets to two-way traffic is slated to begin construction in early March.
Joe Deacon
A look at Adams Street in downtown Peoria shows three lanes of northeast-bound traffic and two parking lanes. A $19 million project to turn Adams and Jefferson streets to two-way traffic is slated to begin construction in early March.

Construction on a long-sought project to turn two major downtown Peoria streets back to two-way traffic is scheduled to begin early next month.

The $19 million project will convert Adams and Jefferson streets from one-way traffic to one lane of traffic in both directions, with a bi-directional center turn lane. The plan includes adding bicycle lanes and overhead traffic signals with improved visibility.

John Havenga was among the people attending the first of Thursday’s two public open house forums on the conversion project. Havenga said he sometimes works downtown and frequently bikes through the project area with his family.

“I certainly learned some information just about the placement of the curb cut outs, the bike lanes, how the lanes are going to be situated, how the flow of traffic and bicycles are going to hopefully cooperate well with each other,” Havenga said.

The entire conversion will establish two-way traffic on Adams between Walnut Street and Hamilton Boulevard, and on Jefferson from Walnut to Fayette Street.

Crews from Otto Baum Company, Inc. [OBCI] will begin work on installing bump-outs and mast arm traffic signals at each of the 13 intersections in the project zone, beginning at the south end of Adams Street and progressing along the flow of traffic.

“They’ll be working on the corners of the intersections, and we’ll be alternating intersections so that traffic will still be able to get through,” said Peoria city engineer Andrea Klopfenstein. “It will be disruptive, but traffic will still be able to flow through the area.”

OBCI project manager Adam Hodgson said they expect access limitations to sidewalks, parking spaces and driveways to be minimal, and lane reductions won’t be out of the ordinary.

“I think the commuters in downtown Peoria are fairly used to some parking lane closures and possibly one-lane closures just due to different utility work, and then also work on the buildings themselves. So it’ll be very similar to that,” Hodgson said. “We’re going to do our best to keep our construction area as condensed as possible to allow the best flow of traffic.”

Klopfenstein said drivers in the area should keep their eyes out once the orange barrels are put into place.

“The traffic zone will be changing frequently, so people should look for signs and be careful and be patient,” Klopfenstein said. “At different times, different areas will be open and closed. But what they’ll start to see is bump-outs at the intersections, which makes the pedestrian crossing distance shorter and makes it safer for pedestrians in this corridor.”

The project is intended to assist in downtown revitalization by reducing vehicle speeds and providing increased access to businesses and properties. Cindy Loos, project manager for engineering firm Hanson Professional Services, said the completed project also will improve pedestrian safety. 

“Hopefully it’s a smooth transition,” said Loos, noting the open house was held in the 200 block of SW Adams, next to where work is underway in front of the Thomas Building. “I’ve already heard a couple of people today trying to figure out how to get here — right? — with some of the construction that’s happening. So it’s easier to traverse downtown having two-way [traffic] on both streets.”

City motor fuel tax, stormwater utility and tax increment financing (TIF) money will cover the bulk of the cost, supplemented by a $1.8 million federal grant and $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars.

The full conversion is expected to take 2½ years to complete. Activation of the two-way traffic pattern won’t occur until after all the work is done, likely in the spring of 2026.

Havenga said while he wishes infrastructure improvements weren’t so expensive, he’s keeping an open mind about the conversion.

“In terms of how it affects traffic flow and businesses, that certainly remains to be seen,” he said. “It seems that there’s a lot of people who are very excited and positive and optimistic about how that will positively affect businesses.

“In terms of how traffic and pedestrians and bicycles flow, that was my main focus and coming into what I wanted to learn about. I’m also optimistic about how the people who are involved are trying to take those into consideration as best they can with the limitations of the layout of the streets and buildings.”

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.