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Multi-town road project gets completion date  

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By Steve Metsch 

There appears to be an end to one long-running construction project in Countryside, McCook and Hodgkins.

But another project has once again been extended in Countryside.

The good news for motorists who drive on East Avenue between 55th Street may be bidding farewell to orange construction barrels and closed lanes.

Roadwork on the busy street is expected to finally be completed in about one year, according to an Oct. 18 letter the City of Countryside received from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“Based on the current progress and pending no additional delays, the contract is anticipated to be complete by late summer 2024,” the letter reads.

Countryside Mayor Sean McDermott announced the news at the Oct. 25 meeting of the city council.

“We’ve got a year to go,” he said.

East Avenue from 55th Street to Joliet Road has been torn up for roughly three years.

According to the IDOT letter, delays with utility companies have contributed to the wait.

The contractor has poured approximately 7,000 linear feet of concrete curb and gutter, adjusted more than 50 drainage structures, placed 6,000 tons of stone for the roadway subgrade, and made other improvements like pouring more than 40 concrete foundations for light poles and traffic signals in the past three months, the letter said.

Traffic will soon be shifted to the west side of East Avenue to allow for building a new retaining wall on the east side of East Avenue, the letter said.

There’s no word on when the work on 55th Street from Joliet Road to just west of East Avenue will be completed.

Another project, the development of property at the southwest corner of 55th and East, site of the former city hall, has again been extended.

The council, by a 5-1 vote, approved the third extension request for an approved preliminary/final plat for the property.

Plans over the years have included a service station catering to trucks, a small ethnic grocery and a brewpub.

“This is basically giving the developer some additional time to come back to the city with final vendors that will be part of that redevelopment project,” McDermott said.

“We’re looking forward to seeing what they bring forward. We did receive a phone call today from one of the individuals involved and he has a letter of intent from Tangled Roots Brewing Company,” McDermott said.

McDermott said that since he was an alderman, the city “has been trying to bring a nice microbrewery into town. This fits in perfectly.”

“We think it would be a nice addition. We’re waiting on the other vendors,” the mayor added. “This is just giving them time to put the final pieces of the puzzle together.”

The two aldermen in whose First Ward were the site is located were split.

Ald. John Finn cast the lone dissenting vote. He said he did so because residents living near the site oppose the development.

Finn has opposed the project before, in keeping with the residents’ wishes.

However, Ald. Tom Frohlich voted for the extension.

“I’d to see the property developed into something that is useful for the city, something the citizens can enjoy,” Frohlich said.

In other business, the council approved a contract for this year’s utility patching to M&J Asphalt Paving for $71, 972. That was the lowest bid received.

Getting back to East Avenue, an angry resident got into a heated discussion with Finn and Frohlich after the meeting.

As Police Chief Paul Klimek kept a watchful eye, Finn and Frohlich tried to reassure the man that the city has no say in how or when the work is done, that it’s up to IDOT.

“I know you don’t agree with it. That’s fine. Everyone is upset about it, but we can’t control delays on all these utilities,” Finn told the man.

“You’re mad and I understand that,” Finn said.

“I’m not mad. I’m livid,” the man replied.

After Ald. Mark Benson, who oversees public works, said, “We don’t have any pull with them. … It’s out of our hands,” the man stormed out of the council chamber.

Asked for his name, he replied “absolutely not.”

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