Danville council to decide on grant for work near high school

DANVILLE — Some aldermen are not in favor of the city applying for up to $15 million in federal grant money to rebuild Jackson Street from Danville High School to Newell Street.

The city would be required to spend up to $3 million in local dollars to match the federal funds for what's called a multi-modal project, meaning improvements that involve not only vehicle traffic but bicycle and pedestrian paths and other features that accommodate those alternate types of transportation.

In addition to street, curb and gutter improvements, the project would involve changes at Danville High to separate pedestrian, vehicle and bus traffic; the alignment of two offset intersections at Jackson and English and Jackson and Voorhees as well as incorporating accommodations for pedestrians at those intersections; extending shared-use paths throughout the project corridor, linking to other shared-use paths in the city; adding features, like more narrow lanes or medians, that are intended to slow traffic.

The Danville City Council will decide on Tuesday whether to allow city officials to apply for the grant. The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the city council chambers of the municipal building, 17 W. Main St., Danville.

Last week, the city council's public works committee recommended applying for the grant on a 4-3 vote. Aldermen Mike Puhr, Jon Cooper, Mike O'Kane and Rick Strebing voted in favor of applying for the grant, but Bill Black voted no, and Rickey Williams Jr. and R.J. Davis both voted present.

In reference to multiple public meetings held since 2006 on proposed improvements to Jackson Street, Black said he believes local residents are not in favor of the changes and there are still details that are unknown such as how much property residents along Jackson Street would have to give up to the project.

At a public meeting in 2011 attended by about 50 Danville residents, there was no consensus on whether the city should build a roundabout or traditional four-way-stop intersection when it aligns Jackson and English and Jackson and Voorhees. Some were adamantly opposed to a roundabout, a circular intersection in which traffic moves in a counterclockwise direction as vehicles enter and exit the rotation without stopping, while others were in favor.

Williams said he believes the city needs to be cautious about the commitment that applying for the grant would entail, because although the city would not have to accept the grant if it were awarded, the city never wants to turn down grants when they do receive them for fear of not being awarded grants in the future. And Davis said he believes there are streets in Ward 1 and 2 that have been neglected and are in more need of improvements.

David Schnelle, urban services director with the city, said there's never going to be total agreement among residents on any project the city undertakes. What the city strives for, he said, is consensus, and he believes there is consensus among residents who want to see an improved Jackson Street with features that slow down traffic, especially around the three schools, Danville High, North Ridge Middle School and Edison Elementary School, that are either on or just off Jackson Street. And rather than wall-to-wall concrete they want to see some shared use paths and other features multi-modal features.

Also on the agenda

DANVILLE — The city council also will consider Tuesday night a proposal that the city pay some construction costs of a new McDonald's restaurant on East Main Street.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said when the projections were first put together for the restaurant, which will be operated by Don and Deanna Witzel who operate the other McDonald's restaurants in Danville, the water and sewer lines were going to run under the restaurant building, which is located at Bowman Avenue and East Main Street.

Eisenhauer said city administration officials explained that the city would prefer those be moved, because if there were an issue with those lines it would be difficult to access them under the building. He said that drove up the cost of the project, which the Witzels were not expecting.

So, Eisenhauer said, it seems only fair for the city to pay for some of the costs of that part of the project.

The city council will consider an agreement that the city pay for the materials for the water and sewer lines up to about $100,000.

The city council also will consider Tuesday accepting a $328,111 low bid for a new fare box and revenue collection system for the Danville Mass Transit buses that also will allow the bus system to accept payments other than cash, such as magnetically encoded passes, tickets and smart cards.

Using those types of payment methods will make fare payments quicker, more efficient and more accurate, according to city officials. To encourage bus riders to use the new types of payment methods, DMT is also proposing a change in the fare structure, offering discounted fares for riders who use a new day pass and a new 31-day pass in addition to the currently offered weekly pass. With this system, DMT is also proposing eliminating charges for transfers.

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