Roosevelt Road Redux

Redux – adjective literally, “brought back, restored” (from the Latin reducere – bring back) used in literature and film titles.

I’ve been a fan of Roosevelt Road for sometime.  Good things always seem to start in the spaces between municipalities.  With the coup led by the Village of Oak Park and supported by Berwyn and Cicero, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has miraculously committed to funding $7 million towards the much needed rebuild of Roosevelt Road.  This project has been championed by the Roosevelt Road Business Association and Paul Zimmerman, the RRBA President.  Important Disclosure – the Publisher of this blog is a member in good standing of the RRBA.

Perhaps a little history and context is in order.  The $45.1 million Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) resurfacing, set to begin in 2010, is one of the biggest projects planned for the Chicago region.  More than 13 miles of the Eisenhower (Interstate Highway 290), from the Reagan (Interstate Highway 88) to the Kennedy Expressway (Interstate Highway 90/94), will be resurfaced.

Roosevelt Road Illustration

Roosevelt Road Reborn

One of the logical alternate routes around the Ike is, Roosevelt Road.  To that end, IDOT has been bringing pressure upon Berwyn, Cicero, Oak Park and other municipalities to make needed repairs and improvements to storm sewers and water mains before the onslaught, with a good measure of success.  However, the patching of curbs and roadway are of an admittedly temporary nature.  In all honesty, Roosevelt Road like many other major traffic arteries needs to be rebuilt.

Now comes along Dan Haley, publisher and owner of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, opining that spending the taxpayer’s money on Roosevelt Road is something of a Boondoggle – not that Uncle Dan isn’t above taking from the public trough when he can… And then there was the expected response from the RRBA through its President rebutting Dan’s nonsense.

Just between us, there’s nobody else reading at the moment… the lion’s share of the project is involving rebuilding the roadway, replacing the sidewalks and making the crosswalks ADA compliant.  Very little of the expenditure, relatively speaking, is targeted upon embellishments and decorative items.  A light post costs about the same, whether it is fancy or plain.

The real challenge will be to the businesses that are located on Roosevelt Road who will have to live with a messy and potentially crippling major construction project in a down economy.  I encourage you to visit and keep visiting Roosevelt Road.  There are plenty of good restaurants, shops and services worthy of your support.