City gears up for major public projects
By Susan Frick Carlman firstname.lastname@example.org January 31, 2013 10:30PM
Proposed bridge over DuPage river at 95th street| Sun-Times Media graphic by Mike Solley
Updated: March 2, 2013 7:35AM
Faced with a surging real estate market and municipal sales tax receipts more abundant than expected, Naperville officials are laying plans for capital projects in the coming fiscal year.
They have yet to decide fully how their resources will be allocated, or whether new borrowing will be necessary.
Among the more long-anticipated developments will be the extension of 95th Street to Boughton Road, including a new bridge over the DuPage River. The collaborative undertaking, being funded with a mix of federal dollars and local shares, is slated to start in the spring and should wrap up sometime in 2014.
The 1.6-mile extension of 95th Street is designed to provide another east-west corridor along the county’s highway network.
Currently, east-west traffic on Boughton Road and 95th Street has to travel on Plainfield-Naperville Road, a north-south roadway, to cross the DuPage River.
Estimates forecast the extension will reduce cumulative travel distance by 5.6 million miles per year and save nearly 250,000 gallons of gasoline, advocates said.
Some, however, have raised concerns about the cost and need for the project.
Bill Novack, the city’s director of Transportation, Engineering and Development, said the Illinois Department of Transportation two weeks ago opened bids for the first phase of the project, from Knoch Knolls Road south, and a contract should be awarded sometime in February.
The quotes all came in around $12.5 million, Novack said, less than engineers had estimated.
“Bid prices were good, so it looks like it’s a go,” he said.
The balance left after the federal contribution is used will be split, with Bolingbrook paying half of the remaining bill and Naperville and Will County each kicking in 25 percent.
According to Chris Smith, the city’s assistant finance director, next year’s budget includes $2.2 million for the extension. A planned outlay of $2.4 million in fiscal 2015 may need to come from borrowed money, Smith said.
Some officials have said they would prefer to use the $5.2 million surplus anticipated at the end of the current budget year to accelerate paying down the municipality’s $100 million unfunded pension balance, and borrow the money needed for capital projects.
Officials foresee solvency for the pension fund two decades from now.
The second phase of the 95th Street project, from Knoch Knolls west, has not gone to bid yet.
Borrowed money could also be used to cover the projected $4.5 million the city will be expected to contribute for the Water Street Development, if the controversial proposal makes its way through the approval process. Much of the sum would cover the city’s portion of the cost of a 520-space parking deck.
Also on the capital spending lineup for fiscal 2014 is an extension of Frontenac Road into the Naperville Center South industrial development off North Aurora Road. The city will reimburse the developer for half of the north-south section and all of the short east-west spur, which leads to the property the city has earmarked for eventual construction of the 55-mile Suburban Transit Access Route.
Envisioned as a connector for the outer reaches of the metropolitan area, the STAR Line remains in conceptual stages.
The developer will cover $56,000 of the cost for the Frontenac project. Funding for Naperville’s portion remains up in the air.
“The balance of $169,000 will be part of the unfunded discussion that will occur on Feb. 25th,” Smith said in an email.
The city also plans to make more than $3 million in wastewater treatment plant improvements, which will be financed with water revenue.
In all, $17.9 million collected from utility payments will be used to help pay for the $46 million capital budget; the remainder of the funds needed will come from general corporate spending.