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Long-sought Wisconsin Avenue upgrade nearing construction

A project to reconstruct a half-mile stretch of Wisconsin Avenue in Peoria’s East Bluff is scheduled to get underway next month.
Joe Deacon
A project to reconstruct a half-mile stretch of Wisconsin Avenue in Peoria’s East Bluff is scheduled to get underway next month.

A project to reconstruct a half-mile stretch of Wisconsin Avenue in Peoria’s East Bluff is scheduled to get underway next month.

City Manager Patrick Urich said the work to upgrade the pavement and sidewalks between Nebraska and McClure is expected to take around a year and a half.

“This is an area of town that the road goes from being very narrow in spots to very wide in spots, so we're going to try and provide a little bit of more continuity to the roadway space,” Urich said.

On Tuesday, the city council unanimously approved the $5 million construction bid submitted by Illinois Civic Contractors, Inc.[(ICCI]. Urich said the project was initially put into the city’s budget in 2022, adding that funding comes from a $3 million state grant, supplemented by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money.

“The idea of doing construction on Wisconsin was actually birthed in 2011,” said District 3 council member Tim Riggenbach during the meeting. “That’s when we started talking about the need for improvements. The fact that there’s two schools — Von Steuben Middle School, as well Glen Oak Learning Center — that will be connected by this improvement just adds to it, along with the hope for future economic development.”

Plans call for a mill and overlay of the pavement, construction of new sidewalks on the west side of Wisconsin, and a multi-use path on the east side.

“The condition of the road has been deteriorating over time,” Urich said. “Once we got through the engineering process and then the bidding process, now we're at the point where we can move towards construction.”

The city has scheduled a one-hour public meeting for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Glen Oak Community Learning Center to provide more details on the project.

City representatives and project team members will be available to answer questions, and maps and exhibits will be on display.

An additional project to rehabilitate Wisconsin from McClure to Forrest Hill is planned to follow the Nebraska-to-McClure portion.

Three TIF districts ending

The council also heard first readings on ordinances to terminate three of Peoria’s tax increment financing [TIF] districts: the Central Business District TIF, the Midtown Plaza TIF and the Northside TIF.

“For the taxing bodies, the closure of these TIFs has meant that they've seen that their distributions have gone up to the increased EAV levels,” Urich said. “For the city, as we close out these three TIFs, it shows that we've been able to do what we said we've done.

“The Central Business District TIF was in place for 35 years; it was a very substantial TIF and the amount of EAV growth in that area has been enormous. Midtown Plaza was a little different; it didn't quite transpire the way that the council had anticipated when it was built out. But now we have tenants in the space: OSF is occupying the space and it's fully being utilized.”

Urich said the termination ordinances are a necessary administrative step. He said all three TIFs technically ended at the close of 2022, with collections and allocations finishing up last year.

Earmark wish list

Urich said the six recent spending bills passed by Congress will provide Peoria with $500,000 toward repairing sidewalks in qualified census tracts, and some funding for a partnership with Habitat for Humanity on housing projects on the South Side.

He said the city staff has prepared a list of 20 items as the next possible earmark requests, and will narrow that down to two or three to submit by the end of the month.

“I don't have any specifics right now, other than we'll probably look at infrastructure,” he said. “That's probably the most important thing. We need to size it the right way; most of the earmarks look to be about $500,000 right now.”

Urich did say one possible area where they may seek funding would be for infrastructure needs around the Medina Plains-Allen Road Business Park.

“Looking at the roadway network, how can we plan for that? Looking at the site plan improvements that we would need if we create the Galena Road Industrial Park,” he said. “Looking at roadway networks, looking at stormwater needs, looking at all of those elements that would be built into that environment so that you can kind of set the stage for future development. Those are the points that I think that we're looking at right now and trying to examine.”

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.